By Sean Devers in Barbados
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Today at the Mecca (Kensington Oval) Guyana Jaguars face-off with the Jason Holder led host team and last year’s runners-up Barbados Pride in the opening round of the 2017 Regional Super50 in the first day/night game, scheduled to commence at 13:30hrs.
The pitch, although not as terrifyingly quick as in the 1980s, should be hard and with a lot more bounce than the ones at Providence, which means the final eleven and the toss could be important factors if the visitors are to be successful against a Barbados team packed with 12 current West Indies players.
This is the 35th time these teams will play each other with Guyana securing 17 wins, 15 defeats and two no results. One game was washed out.
Guyana’s main headache could be if to use three spinners (Jonathon Foo is also an above average off-spinner) along with Ronsford Beaton and the two fast bowling all rounders or to swap Steven Jacobs with Paul Wintz.
Since Roy Fredericks led Guyana to its first title in 1980 in Antigua, they have won in 1983, 1985, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2005 but despite reaching the semis seven times since then and the final in 2015, the championship drought is now 12 years.
The last time these teams met at this level was in the 2015 tournament when Guyana beat Barbados by two wickets in a rain affected day/night match in Port-of-Spain which was reduced to 36 overs per side.
Led by Kraigg Braithwaite (73) and Ryan Hinds (37*) Barbados reached 168-4 in 36 overs before Guyana, on the back of an unbeaten 84 from Reifer and an undefeated 26 from Bishoo who shared an unfinished 42-run eighth wicket stand, made 169-8 with four balls to spare.
The 42-year-old Shiv Chanderpaul made his debut at this level in 1992 and is the only
survivor from 2005 Final. He has shown recent form with two centuries in this season’s four-day format and 87 in the super50 practice game. He could be the glue which holds the middle order together.
Shemron Hetymer, who turned 20 last December, is the most exciting young batsman in the West Indies and his pugnacious batting at the top of the order should be entertaining to watch if he gets going.
Assad Fudadin, one of six players in the Jaguars squad to have played Test cricket, has batted with refreshing positivity since his return from Sri Lanka with the West Indies ‘A’ team and his level headed approach could be the perfect foil for Hetymer.
Skipper Leon Johnson is arguably the best leader in the West Indies but after some outstanding performances in the last First-Class season, he will know he has to get big scores consistently if Guyana are to advance to the final-four in Antigua and if he is to maintain his place in the Regional team.
Foo returns to the Guyana team for the first time since 2011 on the back of outstanding performances in the GCB Franchise Leagues and will have to bat with a positive mindset since he is expected to score at a fast clip
Guyana’s batting is strong on paper with Keeper Anthony Bramble and All-Rounders Chris Barnwell and Raymon Reifer are all capable of quick scoring, while Jacobs, Wintz, Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo could all contribute runs in the lower order.
Beaton is genuinely quick and could share the new balls with either Paul Wintz or Reifer or even Jacobs. Barnwell’s medium pace could be a useful option, while the spin attack includes two Test players in Permaul and Bishoo, who should play key roles in restricting the opposition to a manageable total.
Barbados will depend on Kraigg Braithwaite and Anthony Alleyne to give them a good start for their powerful batting unit in Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jonathon Carter, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, Kevin Stoute and Carlos Braithwaite to build on.
Barbados, with only four titles, have picked Holder, Carlos Braithwaite, Miguel Cummins, Kemar Roach and Stoute to bowl fast. They also have two left-arm spinners and two off-spinners but only Jamal Warrican and Cummins and 35-year-old left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn to a lesser extent, are tailenders.
The Bajans will bank on the experience of Benn who has being playing at this level since 2001 and has played 47 ODIs for the West Indies. The 6ft 7 in Benn is one of two left-arm spinners in the team the other being 24-year-old Jomel Warrican who has played four Tests but is yet to play an ODI.
Chase, Ashley Nurse and Kraigg Braithwaite are the off-spinners but pacers Kemar Roach, Miguel Cummins, Carlos Braithwaite, Holder and Stoute should enjoy the harder tracks in Barbados in what should be good games for both sides since the second largest population here is made up of Guyanese.
Jaguars: Assad Fudadin, Shemron Hetymer, Leon Johnson (Capt), Jonathon Foo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Anthony Bramble, Chris Barnwell, Raymon Reifer, Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Ronsford Bishoo, Steven Jacobs, Rajendra Chandrika, Paul Wintz.
Pride: Jason Holder (Captain), Anthony Alleyne, Suleiman Benn, Carlos Braithwaite, Kraigg Braithwaite, Jonathon Carter, Royston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Jomel Warrican, Kevin Stoute.
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