Nicholas Pooran bounced back from his ball-tampering controversy at the first available opportunity, as he fired Northern Warriors to victory in his season debut in the Abu Dhabi T10.
The Trinidadian left-hander was one of the stars as the franchise won the T10 title in Sharjah 12 months ago.
In his first game after flying in from West Indies’ series against Afghanistan in India, he was straight back into the old routine, blazing 56 not out from 24 balls at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
His innings underpinned the Warriors’ run-chase, as the defending champions beat Delhi Bulls by six wickets with an over to spare.
The tournament represents a fresh start for Pooran after the troubles he endured in India.
He was banned for four T20 internationals after being found guilty of attempting to change the condition of the ball during the Windies’ third one-day international against the Afghans last week.
He missed West Indies' three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, but was still only available for Warriors selection once the second phase of the T10 had started.
Pooran, who had acknowledged the ball-tampering charge and admitted to an “extreme error of judgment”, said he was happy to meet up with his Warriors’ colleagues in the UAE.
“As winners last year, we had a good relationship between the players, coaches and owners,” Pooran said.
“It felt like a family last year and I was looking forward to joining up with Northern Warriors again this year.
“T10 is a wonderful league. We really enjoyed it last year, and I was looking forward to coming back to play.”
Pooran’s return was eagerly awaited by his T10 franchise, who had struggled at the top of the batting order in his absence.
Ahead of their arrival, Daren Sammy, the Warriors captain, had termed Pooran and his opening partner Lendl Simmons “the best opening partnership” last season, and “instrumental in us winning.”
They put on 48 in 3.4 overs to set the Warriors on the way to their target of 111 to beat Delhi Bulls.
“It was the way we played last year,” Pooran said. “We had a gameplan to go out and be aggressive with both bat and ball.
“Chasing around 110, we needed that good start. We knew how we wanted to go about things in the power play. We just tried to express ourselves and it happened for us.
“I tried to restrict myself because I thought if I batted to the end we would win the game. We kept losing wickets and I just had to pick my bowler.”
Pooran and Simmons were not the only openers to find top form on the first day of the second phase of the T10.
Andre Fletcher, with 42 from 16 balls, and Rilee Rossouw, who batted through the innings for 44 from 21 balls, fuelled Bangla Tigers’ win over Team Abu Dhabi.
After they had laid the platform for a total worth 129-3, Qais Ahmed bowled the Tigers to a comfortable 27-run win, as he took 3-8 from his two overs.