Face T&T Red Force today at Providence
By Sean Devers
The Guyana Jaguars are on a roll and at halfway stage of the PCL seem well placed to register their eighth First-Class title and second in successive seasons.
The Jaguars are to Guyana what the West Indies were to the Caribbean in the 1980s; seemingly invincible. They have played five four-day games this season and won all. They sit on 85 points, 22 more than their nearest rival, Barbados Pride.
Since the Bajans beat them by two runs at Providence in 2014 tournament when they were bowled out for 66, the Jaguars have not lost any of their 12 games and have chalked up 11 wins during that period.
Today they face Trinidad & Tobago’s Red Force, who are on 37 points from one win, two defeats and two draws. The Jaguars are on home soil and highly favoured to extend their unbeaten streak.
But cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and it is folly to underestimate an opponent even though the Jaguars spinner should revel in the spin-friendly conditions at Providence where the track is low and makes shot making a hazardous excursion.
The Trinidadians might still be in fete mode since this is Carnival week in the twin-Island Republic although their Coach insists that the festivities which climaxed with celebrations on Carnival Tuesday, did not distract his charges from focusing on the task at hand and being fully prepared for today’s encounter.
Guyana’s one draw in that 12-match unbeaten streak was against T&T last year but without most of their top players it will be hard to imagine that the Jaguars, easily the best prepared team in this tournament, will suffer an upset loss in this match.
Guyana’s highest total in Guyana against Trinidad and Tobago is 537 at Bourda in 1971 and with overcast conditions and showers over the last few days the Guyanese might want to reproduce that type of score and bat once.
Vice-Captain Vishaul Singh, despite being run out thrice, is only 15 runs away from tournament’s leading run scorer, Bajan Roston Chase, who has 436 runs.
Both of his hundreds were scored at Providence where his tendency to pick the gaps and rotate the strike is more suited the surface here as opposed to beating the leather off the ball.
Singh has a liking for the Trinis bowling since his only other ton at this level was made at the Queens Park Oval on his Captaincy debut in 2014.
Test player Assad Fudadin is another batsman whose style of compiling runs without too many ‘big hits’ is well suited for Providence. He should bat at number three today.
Guyana latest Test player Rajendra Chandrika has as his opening partner 19-year-old Tagenarine Chanderpaul, who made 81 in Jamaica in the last match Guyana played in 2015. Without the pressure of his illustrious father’s presence the talented left-hander should bat with a lot more freedom.
Skipper Leon Johnson has been very consistent and is the only other Guyanese with 275 runs. But twice he has reached close to centuries without being able to convert solid knocks into a three-figure score.
Johnson has contributed to Guyana getting 300 & 400 totals this season but from a personal perspective he must be a bit worried about his conversion rate.
Even without Chris Barnwell and Steven Jacobs out due to injury, the lower order has the fire power to give Guyana batting points. Anthony Bramble, Raymon Reifer and even Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo are capable of scoring quick runs on what should be a fast outfield.
Twenty-year-old left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie is enjoying a dream season and is the leading wicket-taker with 34, one more than Jamaican Nikita Miller, while Bishoo and Permaul could cause nightmares for the T&T batsmen.
Pacer Ronsford Beaton and Keon Joseph are expected to get the early breakthrough with the new ball.
Steven Katwaroo is the Red Force’s leading scorer with 257 runs including two fifties while Guyanese Narsingh Deonarine, Bajan Kyle Hope and Yannic Cariah have all passed 200 but they have rarely all scored together which has been a reason T&T have not managed to post big totals consistently.
Former West Indies U-19 left-hander Jeremy Solozano is a classy player but has never made runs in Guyana. Evin Lewis, Akeal Hosein, Reyad Emrit and Skipper Jason Mohamed are all competent with the bat and will hope to fill the huge hole left by Simmons, Ramdin, the Bravos and Pollard.
The top five bowlers with 20 or more wickets are all spinners which tell the story of the quality of pitches and the incompetence of most West Indian batsmen to play spin.
Imran Khan is fourth on that list with 26 wickets including a seven-wicket haul and he and 29-year-old debutant off-spinner Jon Russ Jagessar could be the biggest threat for the Guyanese batsmen. Emrit and Guyanese born Marlon Richards should share the new ball.
Today’s match starts at 10:00hrs and will be carried live on NCN’s Voice of Guyana.
Guyana Jaguars: Rajendra Chandrika, Taignarine Chanderpaul, Assad Fudadin, Leon Johnson (Capt), Vishaul Singh (V/Capt), Raymon Reifer, Anthony Bramble, Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Gudakesh Motie, Keon Joseph, Ronsford Beaton, Robin Bacchus, Esaun Crandon (Head Coach), Rayon Griffith (Asst Coach/Manager)
T&T Red Force: Jason Mohammed (captain), Yannic Cariah, Narsingh Deonarine, Rayad Emrit, Kyle Hope, Akeal Hosein, Jon-Russ Jagessar, Steven Katwaroo, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Yannick Ottley, Marlon Richards, Jeremy Solozano
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