Having secured another spot in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) play-offs, Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) will face one of their biggest challenges yet when they play a fired-up Trinbago Knight Riders in Match 27 which bowls off at 20:00h at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The defending champs and the Warriors both have 10 points with the defending champs in first place due to their 1.021 Net Run-Rate (NRR) compared to GAW’s 0.672.
Their first encounter of the 2018 season should be one of the biggest to date as both sides are currently top-of-the-table and fresh off thumping wins in their latest games.
TKR won their last game by a handsome margin of 46-runs while the Warriors surged to an 8-wicket win, setting up a tale of the tape between two red-hot sides. The last match saw Colin Munro’s blitz along with some fire from skipper Dwayne Bravo who hit five consecutive sixes in 37 off 11 not out and Brendon McCullum’s brisk 35.
The last time these two heavyweight teams met was at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in the semi-final of the 2017 season when the hosts went on to win by 6 wickets before taking care of St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the final on their way to a second championship.
Their ace player Darren Bravo continued to maintain his phenomenal strike-rate while it seems like the TKR’s trust in out-of-form Chris Lynn could help the misfiring Aussie opener to finally break his shackles. The power-hitter has just one good score, 46 which he scored in his second game but has since produced scores of; 8, 6,4,2,8 and 18 in the last game.
His opening partner Sunil Narine is even more out of sorts with 56 runs in seven innings, a major worry for the hosts tonight and they may be forced to make adjustments.
The defending champs will want to contain Guyana’s top-order which apart from Shimron Hetmyer has been mixed in their returns. Chadwick Walton finally got a decent score under his belt for the season with 43 and could not have picked a better time as he missed a century partnership with his opening partner Luke Ronchi.
Ronchi has been peaking since the season started with aggressive knocks of 42, 24 and 28, but it was his fiery 67 not out of 40 against Barbados Tridents in the Warriors last match which helped the ex-New Zealand wicket-keeper to finally settle in and win a game for his franchise. Should the openers click again, the TKR’s bowlers could find themselves under a bit of pressure.
The Warriors leading batsman this season, Hetmyer will also be a key player in this match after his 30 in the last game helped buff his amazing run, playing his first full CPL season.
South African Cameron Delport who recently arrived has been showing signs of his dangerous reputation and could seek to unleash against the champs.
With Roshon Primus providing the consistent wicket-taking and useful runs at the bottom, along with Jason Mohammed’s slight return to form, the Warriors could make a few changes to their squad especially with their combo helping them to an 8-wicket win over a strong Tridents team.
Both sides will be fancying their immense bowling options with TKR showing in their last game that they were willing to swap a match-winner like spinner Kharry Pierre for a Regional talent like Anderson Phillip who bagged a 3-fer in his first match this year.
Coupled with USA pacer Ali Khan, Narine, Bravo and Aussie leggy Fawad Ahmed; Trinbago could give the Warriors a few headaches.
The Warriors bowlers have been proven match-winners for them, most notably South African Imran Tahir. With 13 victims in the bag, the 39 year-old ‘Googly’ specialists has been the difference-maker for the Warriors whose spin department inclusive of Australian Chris Green and Veerasammy Permaul have been holding their own.
Their seamers with the exception of new skipper Rayad Emrit, who has had a few down games have been steady and making good inroads with pack leader Sohail Tanvir, Primus and possibly a returning Keemo Paul adding invaluable support for to Tahir and company.
With the home-field advantage, TKR will want to make the most of their all-round form and home conditions to spring one of the Amazon Warriors before heading to Guyana this weekend for their return game on Sunday.
GAW will meanwhile want to keep their win streak going while beating TKR could tremendously shake things up for the champs when they play the Warriors at their home ground Providence this weekend.
Trinbago Knight Riders; Dwayne Bravo (captain), Chris Lynn, Sunuil narine, Brendon McCullum, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Colin Munro, Fawad Ahmed, Kharry Pierre, Ali Khan, Shannon Gabriel, Javon Searles, Terrence Hinds, Kevon Cooper, Nikita Miller, Anderson Phillip, Hamza Tariq and Amir Jangoo.
Guyana Amazon Warriors; Rayad Emrit (captain), Sohail Tanveer, Cameron Delport, Chris Green, Imran Tahir, Jason Mohammed, Luke Ronchi, Chadwick Walton, Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Roshon Primus, Keemo Paul, Gajanand Singh, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Akshaya Persaud and Saurabh Netravalkar. (Clifton Ross)