Match Analysis

West Indians Pooran, Lewis, Pollard sizzle on Abu Dhabi T10's opening night

There were reminders galore of the abundance of quality that comes from the Caribbean

Aadam Patel
Nicholas Pooran and Odean Smith brought the fireworks  •  Abu Dhabi T10

Nicholas Pooran and Odean Smith brought the fireworks  •  Abu Dhabi T10

Things have not gone well for West Indies in recent times. Their T20 World Cup campaign was an abject failure as they finished bottom of their group and failed to qualify for the Super 12 phase. For a side that once reigned supreme in the shorter format, that was quite the downfall.
There are indeed problems within West Indies cricket and the hopes are that an independent panel assembled by CWI to undertake a "comprehensive review" will provide insight and possible solutions but one thing is for certain - a lack of talent is not an issue.
On opening night of Season 6 of Abu Dhabi T10, there were reminders galore of the abundance of quality that comes from the islands, particularly when it comes to the shorter formats.
Having been put into bat by New York Strikers (one of two new franchises for this year's event), it was Evin Lewis from Trinidad who took Bangla Tigers to a winning score in the opening game, smashing 58 runs off 22 balls in a blistering knock that included two fours and seven sixes.
Wahab Riaz took two wickets in two balls in his first over but in between, it was a clinic from Lewis. He brought up his 50 off 18 deliveries, handsomely flicking Romario Shepherd over the square leg fence for six. By the time he was dismissed by fellow West Indian Ravi Rampaul, the Tigers had gone past the hundred mark and their final total of 131 for five was too much for Kieron Pollard's Strikers outfit.
Pollard himself made 45 off 19 deliveries but it was ultimately in vain as his side fell 19 runs short of the Tigers' total.
In the second game of Wednesday's double-header, the reigning champions Deccan Gladiators won the toss against Team Abu Dhabi and their captain Nicholas Pooran ensured they were going to carry on from where they left off last season with a ruthless unbeaten knock of 77 from 33 balls, including eight sixes.
Despite losing Will Smeed to a golden duck in the first over to Naveen Ul-Haq, Pooran hit back-to-back sixes to finish the over and cashed in throughout. He took Andrew Tye for three consecutive boundaries in the second and though Peter Hatzoglou carried on his remarkable story, picking up the wickets of Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Suresh Raina, Pooran saw him out before taking Mustafizur Rahman to the cleaners. Mustafizur's ninth over went for 27 runs with the man from Trinidad going 4, 6, 4, 6, 6. It was quite the assault from a man who has no doubt felt the heat after West Indies' early exit Down Under.
Hatzoglou's figures of 2 for 12 off his two overs were the best of the bunch for Team Abu Dhabi and he was backed up with Fabian Allen's 2 for 18 but their pace attack took a battering, with Mustafizur, Naveen and Tye going for a combined total of 102 runs from their six overs. Pooran was backed up by a late cameo from Odean Smith as Gladiators set a target of 135.
Despite a flurry from James Vince, who had arrived in Abu Dhabi just hours earlier from Australia, with 37 off 19, Pooran's side defended their total with ease, winning by 35 runs. Josh Little picked up from his hat-trick at the World Cup trapping Vince in front as Gladiators, coached by Mushtaq Ahmed, bowled superbly with Tom Helm and Zahoor Khan taking two wickets apiece.
Pooran earlier this week announced he was stepping down as West Indies white-ball captain and this was a welcome knock him after just 25 runs across his three innings at the World Cup. He was elevated to captain after Pollard announced his international cricket retirement in April but West Indies won just eight out of 25 white-ball games during his stint as full-time skipper. Perhaps this tournament can bring back a bit of that spark and enjoyment that he is renowned for.
There are no fewer than 26 West Indian cricketers in Abu Dhabi for this year's edition of the T10 and for a region that revolutionised the way the shorter forms of the game are played, there is every hope that with the talent still within its ranks, it's sooner rather than later before West Indies cricket is back on the rise.

Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9