‘Home’ boy Pollard holds the key in crunch match
India are the hosts, but when they take on the West Indies on Wednesday, Kieron Pollard will feel at “home”. That’s because the match will be played at the Wankhede, the home of IPL side Mumbai Indians, of whom Pollard has been an integral part for the last decade or so.
No doubt then that West Indies coach Phil Simmons said that they would be banking heavily on captain Pollard in the series-deciding third T20I.
“Pollard has played a lot at this venue, the others have not played that much. I think the experience which they have got from this series is invaluable,” Simmons said at the pre-match media conference.
“He knows things inside out and that will definitely help our bowlers, there are a few youngsters in our team in this format. It will definitely help,” he added.
Pollard replaced Jason Holder as the captain of the ODI team, while he replaced Carlos Brathwaite to become skipper of the T20I side and Simmons said he has been doing well in the twin roles.
“I didn’t have Jason a lot in the ODIs, when I was there (as a coach) before. Kieron (Pollard) is proactive with all the players. He lets them know exactly what he wants from them. He’s been good in the sense that they know that he’ll give everything for the team,” Simmons said.
Among the West Indies bowlers, Sheldon Cottrell has been in good form. But coach Simmons wants the left-arm pacer to be more in control when he is swinging the ball. “He knows his game, knows exactly what he can do. He swung the ball a lot in the last game, but didn’t control it. So, let’s hope he controls it better in this game. He’s been a valuable asset for this team,” said the head coach.
Playing against Afghanistan in Lucknow prior to the India has helped them be better prepared, said Simmons.
“I think it (the series against Afghanistan) helped because we’ve been here for a long time. We tried very hard to keep the (limited-overs) guys here even though there was a Test match on,” said Simmons.
“I think we’re confident because of the way we’ve played in the two games here. Although we lost the first one, we won the second. The way we prepared, the way we’ve been playing, that gives me and the players confidence,” he noted.
When asked about the on-field banter between India captain Virat Kohli and West Indies bowler Kesrick Willaims, Simmons said: “The banter has been good, it has been interesting, they are 1-1 now. Virat got Kesrick in the first match and Kesrick got him in the second. Let’s see who wins it tomorrow (match-day),” he said.
Commenting on the importance of fielding, something in which both the sides have been found wanting, Simmons said: “You will not win games if you drop catches. The players will tell you if it is the lights or whether it is their execution or their position.
“...I do not like excuses. I think if you drop a catch it is your fault. You can blame the lights, but I think we just have to keep working hard so we do not drop any,” he added.
Match starts: 7pm.