By Romario Samaroo
The 2016 HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL), a journey that began back in June in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, with six teams that toured the Caribbean over the past six weeks has come down to the best two, the Guyana Amazon Warriors and the Jamaica Tallawahs.
The Amazon Warriors finished top of the table in the league stage while the Tallawahs are second. It seems as though its déjà vu from the inaugural tournament where these two teams meet in the finals.
Coach of the Guyana Amazon Warriors Roger Harper made it clear that the Warriors are here this year to win, having reminded of the record the Amazon Warriors hold in finals: “We appreciate the fact that it is a new year, a new final and new players so no hangover, just determination.” He went on: “The stakes are high and the players are desirous of lifting the trophy. Obviously we are glad to be back in the finals and looking forward to actually lifting the trophy this time.”
Harper added, the team will be going out there on Sunday (today) and continue to do what they have been doing all season to reach where they are.
Rayad Emrit, who took over the captaincy from Martin Guptil mid-tournament has marshalled the troops well and is also confident his team will bring home the trophy: “I am pleased at where we are and the guys have done a great job. The couple days off has done the team well and we have earned a few days off. The venue is small and a lot of our guys are anxious to play here, especially our batsmen. The guys are hungry and want to lift the trophy.”
All eyes will be on the two star batsmen from the Amazon Warriors, Chris Lynn and Jason Mohammed. Lynn is the leading run scorer this year with 447 runs while Mohammed has 287 and is 7th overall.
Emrit has praised both of them: “Chris has been our leading batter and Jason has been excellent, probably the surprise package.”
Harper has also thrown his hat in the ring acknowledging the impact Lynn has had on the team and revelled in his leadership abilities which has helped the younger players improve.
Dwayne Smith has also been vital to the Amazon Warriors and with his opening partner, Nic Maddinson, the pair will be looking to capitalise in the first six overs.
In the bowling department, the Amazon Warriors have been lead by Sohail Tanvir who sits second on the leading wicket takers board with 20 scalps, one wicket behind Dwayne Bravo.
Tanvir is well supported by Australian leg spinner Adam Zampa and Emrit who have both picked up 15 wickets.
Depending on how the wicket plays tonight, it will be a sight to see how the Jamaica Tallawahs batting line-up match the bowling of the Amazon Warriors.
The Tallawahs have an impressive batting line-up and will be banking on the experience of their senior players to step up and lead them to their second title.
Any team with the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell would seem to frighten any bowling attack, adding to the record these two batsman hold it will be tough.
Gayle has scored 371 runs so far in the tournament, ranking fifth in leading run scorers. He has already blasted the highest score of this year’s CPL (108) while Russell destroyed the Trinbago Knight Riders’ bowling on his way to the fastest CPL century, just 44 deliveries.
Coach of the Tallawahs Paul Nixon has already spoken on the fact that his team has pulled off a magnificent tournament to reach this stage and the team was lead by their experienced players when they were needed.
Looking back at the semi-final between the Trinbago Knight Riders and the Jamaica Tallawahs, Nixon noted that Andre Russell played a classic innings.
But the batting line-up has shown its worth without these two. Gayle’s opening partner, Chadwick Walton showed what he is capable of doing with the bat after narrowly missing out on a century on his way to a solid 97.
Kumar Sangakkara and Shakib Al Hasan have both shown they are match winners and have already displayed that in the tournament. The bowling has also proven that they are capable of holding their own even with the loss of Dale Steyn who returned to South Africa mid-tournament.
Since then, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell and Kesrick Williams have all put their hands up. Williams has taken 15 wickets in the tournament so far and will be looking for a few more.
Nixon said the team was hurting from their performances in Florida and had tweaked with the team a bit to add one and two guys and they are motivated by playing on this big stage, adding that they have world class players and the desire to win is there from the captain right down.
These two teams have met three times in the tournament so far with the Amazon Warriors having a 2-1 advantage.
The first ball of the final bowls off at 19:00h at Warner Park Stadium, Basseterre, St Kitts.
Guyana Amazon Warriors: Rayad Emrit (captain), Sohail Tanvir, Dwayne Smith, Chris Lynn, Nick Maddison, Adam Zampa, Jason Mohamed, Christopher Barnwell, Veerasammy Permaul, Orlando Peters, Assad Fudadin, Shimron Hetmyer, Anthony Bramble, Paul Wintz, Steven Jacobs, Steven Katwaroo, Muhammad Ahsan Ali Khan.
Jamaica Tallawahs: Chris Gayle (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Kumar Sangakkara, Imad Wasim, Dale Patterson, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton, Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Andre McCarthy, Jonathan Foo, Alex Ross, Keswick Williams, Nkrumah Bonner, Garey Mathurin, Timroy Allen and Oshane Thomas. (Guyana Times sports)