Time for Nicholas Pooran to lead West Indies to World Cup Glory?

Time for Nicholas Pooran to lead West Indies to World Cup Glory?

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T20 superstar is an oft-used phrase, but few can argue whether or not Nicholas Pooran fits the bill.

Fans and pundits alike have been gushing over the immense talent of the man with his effortless strokeplay and easy power.

He’s dominated franchise cricket around the globe of late, but is it time for the 28-year-old keeper-batter, in the prime of his career, to lead his home nation to success on the international stage?

It’s time that this version of Nicholas Pooran showed up to drag West Indies back to glory in a major tournament.

It is not often that arguably a country’s most talented batter only plays one of three formats, but such is the case with Pooran.

Having never been selected in the Test arena, Pooran – who has missed the last nine ODI matches against England, India, and Australia – last played an ODI in July 2023 vs Sri Lanka at the ODI World Cup qualifiers.

The West Indies crashed out miserably following defeat to the likes of Scotland and the Netherlands.

Pooran did his job, though – and more, hitting two centuries en route to finishing as top scorer for his side at the tournament.

In truth, the inability of the Windies to field a competent batting lineup outside of Pooran & captain Shai Hope meant they failed to even distinguish themselves from the associate nations.

Might fortunes be different at the T20 World Cup? West Indies will boast a much more settled side heading into this World Cup with all their top players (bar Sunil Narine) making themselves available & featuring in series wins over South Africa, India, and England in the last 12 months.

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Ghosts of the past

In a World Cup context, however, they need their gun batter to fire if they are to improve on their 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cup performances.

At those tournaments, they won a combined 2 matches from 8 played, including defeats to the likes of Ireland and Scotland.

They’ll have as good a chance as ever with a home World Cup. As for Pooran, he’ll have his first two group stage matches at the Providence Stadium, where he played for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) for several years and hit one of his two T20 hundreds, as well as a third match in his home country of Trinidad.

If he can use these familiar conditions to his advantage and start the tournament off strongly, it’ll do him and his side a world of good.

His handle on the conditions at Guyana might translate well to other venues in this tournament.

The latter stages of a World Cup however, call for a certain calmness under pressure & ability to execute in high leverage moments – something we’ve seen from Pooran before, in his 135 off 55 balls in the 2023 Major League Cricket final, where he smashed his team to victory in what could otherwise have been a tense chase.

He’s also been in top form at this year’s IPL, falling one run short of breaking the 500-run mark, striking at 178, in the highest-pressure T20 tournament going round.

It’s time that this version of Nicholas Pooran showed up to drag West Indies back to glory in a major tournament. They’ll have no better opportunity.

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So, how good is Pooran at Guyana really?

That impressive record at Providence Stadium is worth diving into. As mentioned, it’s where West Indies play their first two games of the 2024 T20 World Cup, against Papua New Guinea and Uganda.

They should be targeting two wins – start strong, carry forward early momentum and in Pooran, they have the master of these conditions, well placed to maximise the opening stages of the tournament.

Since 2020, across all men’s T20Is and CPL games played at Guyana, Pooran’s strike rate is a healthy 165 – second only to Faf du Plessis among batters who have faced at least 50 balls across these matches.

West Indies batters 2020 to present, CPL & T20Is - Pooran
Pooran strikes at 165 and gets 69.60% of his runs in boundaries at Guyana since 2020

Meanwhile, nearly 70% of his total runs scored at Providence Stadium in this time have come in fours and sixes. It’s an excellent figure but not the very best for this group – far from it, in fact.

The West Indies have no shortage of prolific boundary hitters – in this chart for instance, seven rank higher than Pooran for boundary % – but their overall scoring rates are ultimately quite sluggish compared to Pooran’s.

For instance, fellow World Cup squad member Brandon King (74%) outperforms Pooran on boundary hitting but his strike rate is a much more sedate 135.

And that’s Pooran’s value, really – an elite boundary hitter who fills the gaps in between equally well, resulting in an explosive performer all round.

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Around the grounds

His handle on the conditions at Guyana might translate well to other venues in this tournament.

Boundary percentages at Providence Stadium are not wildly out of step with those at Barbados (a Super Eights venue for the West Indies, should they qualify, and the host of the final) and St Lucia (host of their final group game v Afghanistan).

In fact, there’s an argument Pooran should enjoy himself even more at those grounds.

Since 2020, there have been 1.71 fours hit for every six at Guyana – better ratios for both Barbados (1.19) and St Lucia (1.46) suggest better venues for six-hitting, which is excellent for Pooran’s fearsome ability to clear the fence.

West Indies 2024 T20 World Cup Venues
Barbados & St Lucia are even more favourable for six-hitting than Guyana

The potential wildcard is Antigua. A possible Super Eights venue for the West Indies, it’s the least batting-friendly of these four grounds.

If the going gets tough in a must-win game, the hosts will be glad of a highly explosive stick with a high floor in difficult conditions who could make the difference.


If you want to follow more of our T20 World Cup analysis or any of our other work at Wicky, please reach out via email or on social media.


Header image: Barry haynes, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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