By Sean Devers
When the bell rings at 18:00hrs this evening at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, the atmosphere should be tremendous as three-times finalists Guyana Amazon Warriors and 2014 Champions Barbados Tridents go head-to-head in what should be an epic battle in the Hero CPL T20 cricket tournament.
An anticipated capacity crowd, expected to include thousands of Guyanese living in Barbados could witness a pulsating contest on what should be a hard bouncy track and fast outfield in a do or die encounter that the Warriors must win to stay in contention for the play-off.
While the Warriors are on six points, one place on the points table above Tridents who are on four points, the Tridents have four games to play while the Warriors have just two remaining, as they battle for the last remaining semi-final spot.
Even if the Warriors beat Tridents tonight and win their last game in Jamaica on Friday they will have to depend on Patriots, Knight Riders or Stars to beat Tridents, who must lose twice for the Warriors to qualify.
But all of those permutations mean nothing if Tridents, which lost by four wickets with five balls to spare when the sides last met at Providence, win tonight. Head Coach Roger Harper wants his chargers the focus on tonight’s game, play smart cricket and don’t think too far ahead.
When these two teams last played at Providence, Dwayne Smith’s fourth CPL ton went in vain as a masterful 57-ball 92 from Chadwick Walton rallied the Warriors to 160-4 in reply to Tridents 159-4.
But although Sohail Tanvir (16) added 48 with Walton for the first wicket, only Martin Guptill with a pedestrian-paced 27 reached double figures. Guptill has returned to New Zealand due to his father’s ill heath and has been replaced by fellow New Zealander 36-year-old wicket-keeper/ batsman Luke Ronchi who joined the team in Barbados. Reyad Emrit led Guyana to last year’s final and has taken over as Captain.
Conditions in Barbados will different from those at Providence and the Tridents, who beat the Warriors on the D/L system in the 2014 final, could find the track at home more helpful to their pacers.
Walton is among the top run scorers this year and a lot will depend on him and pinch hitter Tanvir in the power-play overs while Jason Mohammed, Gajanand Singh, Assad Fudadin, Ronchi, Kemo Paul and Emirt will also be depended on for runs.
Tanvir is again the Warriors leading wicket-taker and will spearhead the pace attack with support from Emrit and Paul with the lively Keon Joseph or Roshan Primus possibly replacing Steven Jacobs.
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan has not been at his best in this CPL but is capable of spinning his magic at anytime and could be Tridents’ biggest threat tonight. Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul could share the new ball with Tanvir.
Tridents have included 30-year-old Eoin Morgan who led England to the final of the World T20 in April 2016 where they lost to West Indies in Kolkata.
”If we are to claim our second CPL title, we need proven match-winners. We have that in Eoin, who is not only one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world but also a fantastic presence – both on and off the field.” said Robin Singh, the Barbados Head Coach.
Morgan, Smith, Kane Williamson, Skipper Kieron Pollard, Keeper Nicholas Pooran, West Indies U-19 all rounder Shamar Springer and Imran Khan could lead the batting.
Wayne Parnell and Ravi Rampaul could share the new ball with pace support from Springer and Pollard with Akeal Hosein, Damion Jacobs and Khan doing the spinning.
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