Jamaica Tallawahs and St Lucia Stars who ended the first weekend of matches in this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) on opposite sides of the spectrum will collide tonight to begin the second week of action at Sabina Park in Kingston.
The Tallawahs will be at home and will be looking to press home the advantage against the Stars, who lost both of their opening games to begin their campaign in very uncomfortable fashion.
The St Lucia-based franchise has now gone 13 straight games without registering a victory, a trend which began in 2016. In the tournament opener last Wednesday, the star-studded Stars lost to reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders by 100 runs at the Queen’s Park Oval, then three days later missed out by three runs to the Guyana Amazon Warriors at Providence while the Tallawahs stopped the champions in a record-breaking performance in Port of Spain on Friday.
It was Tallawahs’ new captain, Andre Russell, who bagged a hat-trick and blasted a 40-ball ton to seal a record-breaking win against TKR that sent a strong warning to all teams.
After TKR tallied a new CPL record score of 223 for 6, the Tallawahs seemed down for the count at 41-5 in the seventh over when Russell, who missed the 2017 tournament due to a one-year ban, joined Kenar Lewis to push for the miraculous win with three balls to spare.
They put on 161 runs for the sixth wicket, to join Marlon Samuels and Orlando Peters as record holders for the highest partnership in CPL and the best sixth-wicket stand ever in all T20s.
Once again, the Tallawahs will look to their captain for an inspiring performance, but will also depend on their top order of Johnson Charles, Glenn Phillips and Ross Taylor for contributions with the bat.
Against TKR the bowlers were expensive and will need to tighten against a good Stars unit on paper.
Other than Russell’s hat-trick, other seamers like Krishmar Santokie, Rovman Powell and Kemar Roach were expensive while spinners Imad Wasim and Adam Zampa were steady last Friday in damp conditions after a rainy day in Trinidad and will need to tighten up to keep the home fans happy.
David Warner, who is yet to set the CPL alight after two ordinary performances so far, is eager to make a winning contribution alongside Captain Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, and Andre Fletcher with the bat. Once they get going under the lights at Sabina Park, they will give their bowlers some amount of cushion.
Pollard, who bowled cleverly in the two matches so far without completing four overs in either game, will look to Kesrick Williams, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohammad Sami and if fit, Darren Sammy for support in the seam department on a pitch that is expected to respond favourably.
Under the lights and with the dew, spinners Qias Ahmad and Rahkeem Cornwall could have their work cut out as is the case so far.
If the Tallawahs win again, it will be the 14th straight game that the Stars have played without winning any, a record no team should be proud of.
This is the first of two matches at Sabina Park, one of two home venues for the Tallawahs, who will also host three matches at the Central Broward Regional Park in Florida.
The first ball tonight is at 18:00h Jamaica time (19:00h Guyana time).
On Wednesday, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots with one win after two games will take on the Tallawahs at Sabina Park before the Jamaica franchise heads north for games against the Guyana Amazon Warriors, TKR and Barbados Tridents.