By Akeem Greene
Guyana Amazon Warriors and arch rivals Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) will meet this evening in a blockbuster, match nine, clash of the 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Warriors, who are three-time finalist in the five years of the gala tournament, enter this crucial fixture on the back of two heart-rending defeats at the hands of St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in Florida.
In both matches, their batting failed to muster the potential it has on paper. In their first match captain Martin Guptill looked the most fluent at the top-order but a sore hamstring prevented his participation in the second match.
At the pre-match conference on Thursday, Guptill stated that the team is well-prepared for the match, given that they have had some good practice sessions.
Commenting on the two losses, the captain contended that “sometimes you don’t win every match. The spirit is good in the camp. We are keen on being positive and adapting quickly to the conditions”.
Mystery leg-spinner Rashid Khan has yet to make the expected impact given his exploits on the international circuit.
“Things have not gone how he [Rashid Khan] would have wanted thus far. We are just encouraging him to do well. He has a good head and will do well”, the skipper added.
Wicket keeper/ batsman Chadwick Walton has been the team’s highest run-getter to date but has failed to convert his starts into more significant scores and at a faster rate.
Jason Mohammed, who had a sensational 2016 season, will need to return to his best and solidify the middle-order. Talented Pakistani batsman Babar Azam has shown signs of producing classy innings but also needs to move on from his starts.
All-rounders Sohail Tanveer, Keemo Paul (Warriors’ most economical bowler) are expected to play more crucial roles by adding the late fire power with the bat.
Meanwhile, the home-side, arguably the strongest team on paper, has produced some in-different performances. After batting the St. Lucia Stars out of their first two contest, they produced a train-wreck batting performance in the their last match against the Jamaica Tallawahs to suffer their first lost in three matches.
Head Coach Simon Katich contended that it was “a quite a funny game. We did a lot of things really well, we played a good game up top the 10 over then lost our way, the guys learned a lot from that,” Katich said
“We will be hungry to dwell against Guyana and it is a good attack since they have some really good bowlers,” the coach added.
The threat for TKR lies in their power packed top-order which includes, Brendon McCullum, Collin Munro, Darren Bravo and new pinch-hitter Sunil Narine.
Leg spinner Shadab Khan looked threatening in previous games and also packs a punch with bat in hand. Khan has the support of the crafty Dwayne Bravo and Kevon Copper along with quickie Ronsford Beaton.
Tonight’s match is expected to bowl-off at 21:00 hrs which makes dew a critical factor. The teams have met 10 times in the tournament with honours being shared even. The Warriors have only won twice in Trinidad since the tournament began in 2013.
Guyana Amazon Warriors Squad: Martin Guptill (captain), Sohail Tanvir, Chadwick Walton, Babar Azam, Rayad Emrit, Rashid Khan, Jason Mohammed, Steven Taylor, Veerasammy Permaul, Roshan Primus, Gajanand Singh, Assad Fudadin, Keon Joseph, Steven Jacobs, Steven Ketwaroo, Keemo Paul, Muhammad Ali Khan.
Trinbago Knight Riders Squad: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine, Hashim Amla, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Colin Munro, Shadab Khan, Khary Pierre, Ronsford Beaton, Javon Searles, Nikita Miller, William Perkins, Kevon Cooper, Anderson Phillip Hamza Tariq, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Robert Frylinck.