CPL 2018: Warriors, Tallawahs face off tonight in crucial encounter

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With the 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in its crunch stage, Head Coaches Mark O’Donnell and Johan Botha have acknowledged that the Guyana Amazon Warriors versus Jamaica Tallawahs clash is certainly a must win for both teams.

GAW Head Coach Johan Botha, Warriors all-rounder Keemo Paul, Jamaica Tallawahs pacer Kemar Roach, and Coach Mark O’Donnell during Friday’s pre-match press conference at the Marriott

Saturday night’s big game will see the Warriors returning home in the first of their pair of matches at Providence weeks after they first commenced their 2018 campaign at the venue.

This time they return tied on 10 points but in third place, while the Tallawahs, who are in 4th position, are looking to secure a win with the play-offs approaching.

O’Donnell, the Tallawahs’ coach, and Warriors’ coach Botha, during their pre-match press conference on Friday at the Marriott Hotel, were both confident yet cautious, knowing the high stakes at risk for both teams.

“Crucial game tomorrow night. The front 4 has been decided, it’s just a question of order. The order of finish is very important. We need to beat Guyana to ensure we have a chance of making that top three”, O’Donnell said.

While the Tallawahs have a decent winning streak coming into this game, the Warriors are currently in the midst of trying to forget their previous loss to the Trinbago Knight Riders.

Botha has admitted being happy with the team’s progress, He added that he was glad to pick from a full-fit squad.

“We are happy to have 5 wins out of 8. We have 2 games to go, so tomorrow is a big game, and everyone knows that. It’s nice to have everyone else fit. Keemo Paul is back and fit, so it’s good to have everyone fit to pick from”, said Botha.

The Warriors have racked up 200 against the Tallawahs a few matches ago, thus winning the encounter as Jamaica folded for 130-odd, prompting O’Donnell to admit that they will be keen on restricting the Warriors from posting a big total.

“We will try not to chase over 200, we were on par in the last game but we lost some wickets. They are a good side and they are a good side here (in Guyana). We also know that playing in Trinidad and in Guyana you get massive support and I think the game is sold out, so that alone is absolutely brilliant for T20 cricket”.

The Warriors have been a better bowling side than they have been batting, due to runs coming mainly from Shimron Hetmyer and now opener Luke Ronchi. Their bowlers, however, have been world-class, from international spinner Imran Tahir, their leading wicket-taker, to Guyanese pacer Romario Shepherd who picked up three wickets in the last game played.

Knowing that the loss to TKR could be used against them by their opponents on Saturday, Botha believes that the side will definitely bounce back and tighten up as they look to secure a good spot on the table. “We would want to bounce back, we have some training today and we are looking forward to a good training session as well as looking forward to a good game tomorrow night”.

Finishing either first or second gives the team an edge in clinching the coveted Caribbean Premier League title. The title has eluded the Warriors for the past five years, though they have made it to the playoffs every year, losing three times in the final round. The Tallawahs have already won one title and are in search of their second.

Meanwhile, both teams wrapped up their final practice session on Friday at Providence, with tonight’s clash set to be a firecracker with both teams on a race to the top. The first ball is expected to be delivered at 20:00h. (Clifton Ross)

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