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Nicholas Pooran hails Windies hitting depth after thrilling near-miss against England

Vice-captain backs Odean Smith to find form after Shepherd-Hosein fall just short

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Romario Shepherd goes down the ground, West Indies vs England, 2nd T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados, January 23, 2022

Romario Shepherd goes down the ground during West Indies' thrilling finale  •  Getty Images

Nicholas Pooran defended West Indies' selection and praised Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein after their late hitting gave England a fright in Barbados.
West Indies slipped to 65 for 7 and 98 for 8 in pursuit of 172 in the second T20I at Kensington Oval, but Shepherd and Hosein put on 72 runs in just 29 balls for the ninth wicket to take them to a one-run defeat.
"Akeal and Shepherd have been working really hard on their batting," Pooran, the vice-captain, said. "We know in our team we have a long list of hitters.
"We saw something special from Akeal and Shepherd tonight. Kudos goes to them, they didn't give up at all, but that goes to show the strength in our team. Tonight was their night, we lost the game by two runs [sic], but the next night someone else can turn up to the party.
"Not only tonight but in the Ireland series, [Hosein] proved that he is a capable batsman and tonight he struck the ball as good as anyone. We always give him some thunder that he's batting No. 11 for us but he keeps proving to us that he's a batsman. I'm happy for him: he's working really hard, not only as a bowler but as a batsman as well."
Pooran also defended the selection of Odean Smith, the allrounder, whose involvement has been minimal across the first two T20Is due to West Indies' surfeit of options in their middle order.
Smith has bowled a solitary over in the series so far, conceding four runs, and hit 7 off 3 balls from No. 8 on Sunday night, but Pooran said that Kieron Pollard's success with the ball meant he had simply not been required.
"He's playing as a power-hitter," Pooran said. "He's a special player and we back him all the way to come out and execute his skills for us. In saying that, we have batsmen who we know have to put our hands up and make runs in crucial positions and in crucial situations.
"At the end of the day we back each and every one in our team here. We're not playing Odean Smith as a bowler. He's an allrounder, he just played the Ireland series and batted really well as well. We back everyone in our team to play their role.
"The captain came on and bowled in crucial times, bowling crucial overs. In all honesty, he bowled an over yesterday and today he wasn't required. If you see the scores, Pollard bowled those four overs really well today."
Moeen Ali, whose all-round contributions earned him the player-of-the-match award, described West Indies' side as "extremely dangerous" and admitted that England had been given a scare.
"Even though they were 50 [55] for 5, six or seven down for not many runs, they were never quite out of the game," Moeen said. "They're such a dangerous team. I know a lot of older players have retired and stuff but they've got so much talent, so much power.
"The fact they bat all the way down to No. 10 makes them extremely dangerous, even in the situation where we thought we were going to cruise that game. For them to lose by one run, it's actually quite scary. Their batting line-up is very scary."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98