The script of the second playoff in the Hero CPL 2018 tournament would be written tonight at the Providence National Stadium when Jamaica Tallawahs and the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots go head-to-head for a shot at the championship title.
The loser of this match will be eliminated, while the winner will face the loser of the first playoff match, the Trinbago Knight Riders.
It should be noted that, in recent times, the side bowling first at the Providence Stadium has a higher chance of victory. Therefore, the toss is going to be an important factor to whichever team wins it on Wednesday.
In their last game, Jamaica Tallawahs defeated Guyana Amazon Warriors by eight wickets to finish third with 12 points on the CPL 2018 points table. They have won six and lost four of their ten league fixtures.
Prior to their encounter against the Warriors, they beat Barbados Tridents by five wickets, before facing a seven-wicket loss to St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in a rain-truncated contest.
The Tallawahs have been brilliant with the bat in their last four matches. They have a formidable batting line-up, but the key men are going to be Glenn Phillips, Rovman Powell and Ross Taylor.
Phillips is currently third on the list of top run-scorers this CPL, while Powell has a strike-rate of 162 along with three half-centuries to his name. Powell blasted a 40-ball 84 in his last knock against the Patriots, and is coming off a score of 55 not out against the Warriors.
Taylor, too, smashed an unbeaten fifty both in that game and in the first reverse encounter earlier in the season.
Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell, with 15 and 14 wickets respectively, have been the pick of the bowlers for the Tallawahs, and the onus will be on these two to take wickets and exert pressure on the Patriots. Ish Sodhi and Samuel Badree could also do well here, with the wicket expected to offer some support for the spinners.
New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi has replaced his Australian counterpart Adam Zampa, who has returned home to play domestic cricket.
Their opponents, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, have finished the league stage as the fourth placed team on the points table with five wins and four losses from ten matches. After facing defeats against Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinbago Knight Riders, and having had a game against St Lucia Stars abandoned, the Patriots bounced back into the tournament with back-to-back wins over Jamaica Tallawahs and Barbados Tridents respectively.
In their last match, they narrowly managed to chase the Tridents’ total of 168, to win by two wickets.
Patriots will bank on their opening pair of Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis to take them off to a brisk start. Gayle has been their leading run-getter this CPL season, and the team will be hoping that he fires for them; along with Lewis, who has had a rather cold season so far.
Rassie van der Dussen had scored 45 not out in the most recent encounter against the Tallawahs, and he is another key figure at the top of the order. Ben Cutting, Sheldon Cottrell and Carlos Brathwaite have been the go-to bowlers for the Patriots. Cutting has taken the most wickets for them this season with 10 in 9 matches, and the Australian seamer will be their biggest hope with the ball.
Cottrell, too, has bowled well, and it will be crucial that he strikes early in the innings. Tabraiz Shamsi, who claimed the best figures of 2-16 in the last game, can also be effective on this spin-friendly track.
Devon Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite and Sheldon Cottrell were all rested for the previous match against Barbados Tridents, and they are likely to return at the expense of Ibrahim Khaleel, Jeremiah Louis and Anton Devcich.
The team may also experiment, as they have recently signed Saad Bin Zafar a Canada left-arm-spinning-all-rounder whose economy rate of 6.23 may prove valuable in the game against the Tallawahs. Saad comes in following the Bangladesh all-rounder Mahmudullah’s departure for the Asia Cup in the UAE.
SKNP Predicted XI: Chris Gayle (c), Evin Lewis, Rassie Van der Dussen, Saad Bin Zafar, Devon Thomas (WK), Carlos Braithwaite, Fabian Allen, Ben Cutting, Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph, Tabraiz Shamsi.
JT Predicted XI: Glen Phillips (WK), Johnson Charles, Ross Taylor, Rovman Powell, David Miller, Andre Russell (C), Colin De Grandhomme, Ish Sodhi, Steven Jacobs, Samuel Badree, Oshane Thomas.