But travel issues in T&T affect team
By Sean Devers in Antigua in association with Western Union, John Fernandes Ltd. and Meet Your Match Dating Service
Tournament leaders Guyana Jaguars with 75 points, are overwhelming favourites to register back-to-victories in the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Four-Day Professional Cricket League when they begin their sixth round encounter against bottom placed Leeward Islands Hurricanes, who have only managed 5 points, from today at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The Jaguars squad suffered a minor hiccup in Trinidad on Tuesday evening due to a booking mix-up with their in-transit flight to Antigua resulting in those players with United States Visas being allowed the option of traveling to Antigua via the USA while those without had to wait a little longer.
When the team last met in the competition at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence in the first round, the home destroyed the Islanders by an innings and 10 runs. Then, Narsingh Deonarine scored an unbeaten 110 and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo took seven wickets in the match.
Guyana has played the Leewards 36 times winning 10, losing 10 and drawing 16 of those matches and in early 2014 when they met at this level the Leewards won by five wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium despite 110 from Skipper Leon Johnson and a six-wicket match haul from Keon Joseph.
But while the Jaguars, who failed to win any game in the last tournament has been improving by leaps and bounds, the Leewards have continued to produce dismal performances and have been beaten in each of their five games in the tournament so far. They will need a dramatic turn-around in this game to upset the Jaguars who have gotten solid contributions from every member of their team when they needed it.
Deonarine, who, after a succession of ducks was eventually dropped in the last competition, has returned in a blaze of glory with two centuries in his first two games this season. His 306 runs is only less than the Windwards pair of Devon Smith (350) and Tyrone Theophile (327) and gained him a recall to the West Indies team for the South Africa series and a pick by the Jamaica Tallawahs for his first CPL T20 tournament which starts in June.
Deonarine missed the last game at Sabina Park due to the flu and he and opener Rajendra Chandrika (169 runs), who also missed that match due to ‘Gastro’ are both fit and ready to return to the Jaguars unit. Chandrika should partner West Indies Under-19 opener Shemron Hetymer at the top of the order.
At 18, the left-hander looked confident against Jamaica but, like many others in the side failed get a ‘score’ after doing all the hard. But with another year at the Regional U-19 level, he is defiantly one for the future and should being given an extended run.
The 40-year-old Shiv Chanderpaul has quietly produced 257 runs from three matches and while his 17th Regional First-Class ton has eluded the prolific left-hander this season, he has passed 50 twice and like Deonarine, averages above 50.
Skipper Leon Johnson, who missed two matches due West Indies duties has batted fluently and would be aiming to register his third First-Class century and second in a row at this venue while Chris Barnwell has one fifty and has gotten starts but like Anthony Bramble, whose highest score is 73, has failed to build on them.
Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul has played four Tests and continues to stake a strong claim for a West Indies re-call when England tours the Caribbean next month on this very ground, since in addition to being the leading wicket taker with 38 scalps, his batting has been a revelation with back-to-back fifties in his last two games.
Bishoo, Keon Joseph and Ronsford Beaton has all shown they can ‘hold their end’ for prolonged periods which gives the Jaguars’ batting plenty of depth. The track at North Sound should be more batting friendly than the one at Sabina Park and it is unlikely that a four-prong spin attack will be used again in this match, especially since the Leewards batsmen are usually uncomfortable against spin.
The return of Chandrika and Deonarine, who could also provide off-spin options, could leave left-handed all-rounder Raymond Reifer and Vice-Captain Vishaul Singh on the beach today.
The 26-year-old Orlando Peters has been the only Hurricanes’ batsman to reach three-figures in a disappointing batting display by the Islanders. Jahmar Hamilton (256) and Austin Richards with (220) have been the only batsmen to reach 200 runs in the series while the burly off-spinning all-rounder Rakeem Cornwall, who turned 22 this month, scored 95 on his First-Class debut against Jamaica but has only played one more game at this level while Anguillan Montcin Hodge is the only other batsman in the team to reach 50.
Devon Thomas has underachieved with the bat while the bowling attack will be spearheaded by Gavin Tonge and medium pacer Peters, the only bowlers with more than 10 wickets in a team which declined to buy any player from outside of the Leewards Islands and that have already used 20 different players in just five matches.
In other matches today, Barbados Pride will be looking to collect their fourth straight victory and prove what a difference a format makes when they host long-standing arch-rivals Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Kensington Oval.
Pride and Red Force were truly last season’s top two sides – the home team lifted the NAGICO Super50 title and followed up with the R4Day crown, while T&T finished in the runners-up spot in both competitions.
In Kingstown, St. Vincent: Judging on recent results, the most competitive contest of the round could emerge, when the Windward Islands Volcanoes meet the Jamaica Franchise at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex.
Volcanoes breathed life into their season with a resounding victory over the Red Force in the previous round, at the same time that the Franchisers stumbled when they were dominated by the Jaguars.
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