By Sean Devers in Barbados
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It’s down to final two matches in zone ‘B’ for Guyana Jaguars! Tonight at the Kensington Oval they hunt down second placed Jamaica Scorpions in their most important match in the 2017 Regional Super50 tournament.
The top two teams in each zone qualify for the Semis and with unbeaten Barbados Pride (28 points) already assured of a spot, Scorpions, with one more game to play than Jaguars, are one point ahead of the Guyanese, in third position on 13 points.
Today is a must win game for Jaguars, preferable with a bonus point, but this is easier said than done since they have not been as dominant as they would have liked.
Their batsmen have looked uncomfortable on tracks with extra bounce and apart from brief periods, have not been allowed to score quickly. Their 212-4 against the ICC Americas is their highest total, while Barbados made a 302 against them. Steven Jacobs is one of four bowlers with an economy rate of under 3 runs per over, but the bowlers have been inconsistent.
If two teams are equal on points, the next stage is wins against each other and if equal, bonus points will be the decider. If still equal, net run rate will be used. The Jaguars have only gotten one bonus and not pressing for the bonus point against ICC Americas could come back to haunt them.
The Jaguars have lost three of their six matches, two to Barbados and the other to Jamaica who made 249-8 with Chadwick Walton (82), Devon Thomas (52*) and Jermaine Blackwood (42) batting well. Ronsford Beaton, Raymon Reifer, Veerasammy Permaul and Jacobs getting two wickets each for the Jaguars, who fell for 208 despite a magnificent 101 from 96 balls from Shiv Chanderpaul as Jerome Taylor (5-40) and Reynard Leveridge (3-38) bowled with genuine pace.
The teams had contrasting fortunes in their last games with Jamaica beating CCC to get a bonus point, while Guyana suffered a heartbreaking last over defeat against Barbados that put them in this must win situation today.
Some say what happens in the past influences the present and decide the future but it is also said if you feed your faith your doubt will starve to death.
Jaguars must not doubt their ability to play positive cricket against Jamaica and back themselves to score close to 300 runs in conditions at Kensington which are conducive to quick scoring.
Skipper Leon Johnson says his team is most comfortable chasing and the toss could be important today when the sides meet for the twenty second time in this format. The score line read 10-10 with one tie and one washed out game.
Hurricane’s Kerion Powell has 429 runs from five matches. His three tons equals Ramnaresh Sarwan who scored three hundreds in same tournament in 2005 when Guyana won the last of their nine titles.
Johnson is in good form with 227 runs and three fifties and is only behind Powell, Kraigg Braithwaite (305) and Volcano’s Sunil Ambris (247) and could be the key to the Jaguars getting a big score today.
Chanderpaul (182), Reifer (135) and Assad Fudadin (126) are the other Jaguars batsmen with a hundred runs and will need to contribute significant scores. Openers Fudadin and Rajendra Chandrika (94), shared the first half-century stand in the tournament for Guyana in their last match and will hope to give the Jaguars another firm foundation for Johnson, Chanderpaul, Reifer, Chris Barnwell, Anthony Bramble and Veerasammy Permaul to build on. Jacobs is a much better batsman than the 32 runs and average of 10.66 suggests.
Jacobs, Bishoo and Permaul will have to bowl well today, while Beaton has bowled fast. Reifer with his deceptive slower balls, have served the Jaguars well and it will be interesting to see if Paul Wintz returns to ‘beef up’ the seam attack.
Jamaica will bank on Walton and John Campbell to give them a good start for Blackwood, their most consistent batsman and the only one with 150 runs in the tournament, to build on.
Thomas, Andrew McCarthy, Rovman Powell, Skipper Nikita Miller and Damion Jacobs could all contribute with the bat, while Taylor, Leverock and Powell could again test the Guyanese with their pace before Jacobs and Miller are introduced.
Jamaica face Barbados on Thursday before playing their final game against ICC Americas and the Jaguars, who oppose ICC Americas in their last game, will want to beat Jamaica tonight and that Barbados defeat them on Thursday. Both Jamaica and Guyana are expected to beat ICC Americas.
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