By Brandon Corlette
Call it what you will, chicken curry or curried chicken, a match between Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) and Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) is always a mouthwatering clash in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
These two teams will lock horns today, Thursday August 26, from 10:00h at Warner Park in St Kitts in the first match of the tournament. Both teams are equipped with T20 stars, both locally and internationally recognised, and this is the best way to get the tournament underway.
Operations Manager of the GAW, Omar Khan, is confident the 15-man squad led by Trinidadian Nicholas Pooran would execute well and win the first match.
“The rivalry between Trinidad and Guyana has always been there (in) the CPL and Regional tournaments. We look forward to the opening game, it is going to be exciting, and it is a good game to start the tournament. I think CPL has always identified these two teams as the two most exciting teams, and it is always good to start the tournament with this high-profile game.
“With Pooran being captain and he is a Trinidadian, it is going to be added excitement,” Khan said.
Returning to the GAW set-up are experienced Pakistan off-spinning all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez. Speaking ahead of the opening match, Khan said: “Malik played with us in 2019. He’s back with us this year. He has that calmness (and) professionalism, and he lends a lot of support to the younger players. He’s a total team person. With his overall experience, I’m sure he’s going to add value to the team.
“We have Mohammad Hafeez who has lifted his game over the last year or so. We see him bringing stability and added value as an all-rounder. We think we have quite a compact batting line-up. Both Hafeez and Malik can give us some overs of spin,” Khan explained.
In regard to the opening match, TKR Head Coach Imran Jan has said, “(We’re) always excited to play against Guyana. It’s always been a rivalry that we look forward to. The guys are up for the challenge.”
Asked if defending champions TKR are keen to repeat the 100 per cent win record that they achieved last year, Jan replied, “We’re conscious of that. We’re not going to pay too much mind over what happened last year. We played each game one at a time, ticked all the boxes. Once we can do that, I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again.”
Meanwhile, GAW batsman Shimron Hetmyer has said Warner Park is not the fastest wicket in the Caribbean, but he expects spin to play a key part in the CPL.
“Spin will play a key role for our spinners and spinners in general. I think we will come to the party,” Hetmyer said.
Trinbago Knight Riders squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine, Colin Munro, Yasir Shah, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Isuru Udana, Tim Seifert, Anderson Phillip, Denesh Ramdin, Tion Webster, Akeal Hosein, Jayden Seales, Leonardo Julien, Ali Khan.
Guyana Amazon Warriors squad: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Anthony Bramble, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Imran Tahir, Brandon King, Mohammad Hafeez, Gudakesh Motie, Naveen-ul-Haq, Ashmead Nedd, Romario Shepherd, Shoaib Malik, Kevin Sinclair, Nial Smith, Odean Smith.
Barbados Royals and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots will play on Thursday as well at 19:00h.