By Sean Devers
Since the formation of West Indies First-Class Franchise tournament Barbados Pride is one of only two teams to have beaten Guyana Jaguars in their last 34 matches and today when the two sides collide at Providence the home team is favoured to extend their lead and push their unbeaten streak to five.
Both teams come off victories in their last matches with Jaguars crushing Red Force by an innings & 217 runs and Pride beating Windwards Volcanoes by 135 runs.
Although Barbados are the most decorated team in Regional First-Class cricket from 1966 with 23 titles, Guyana with 10 titles, three of them in the last three seasons under the leadership of Leon Johnson is the best four-day team in the West Indies.
After playing their last three matches on the road with wins in St Lucia and Trinidad and a draw in St Kitts, Jaguars starts the fifth round of the 10-match series on 64.8 points.
The Jaguars are 20.2 points ahead of second placed Leeward Hurricanes who face T&T’s Red Force from today in Antigua, while Barbados Pride with a win, a loss and two draws are third on 42.4 points.
The last time Barbados beat Guyana was in 2014 when set 69 to win Guyana were bowled out for 67 which remains their second lowest total after being blown away for 41 in 1986 in Jamaica.
While Devendra Bishoo, Bajan Raymond Reifer and Shimron Hetymer, who could consider himself unlucky not have played more than his three Tests, are unavailable due to West Indies duties, the Jaguars are still the team to beat with Kemo Paul, Shiv Chanderpaul, Vishaul Singh and Skipper Johnson all reaching three-figures this season.
Singh has two centuries this season in addition an unbeaten 97 in St Kitts and with 359 runs is the tournament’s leading run scorer and like Johnson, with 289 runs including a career best 165 in Trinidad, would be keen to continue their form and regain their Test places.
Shiv Chanderpaul (20) is joint second with Stuart Williams and only behind Devon Smith (25) for most Regional hundreds, will again be the glue that holds the Jaguars batting together.
Support will be expectedwith the bat from Wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble, Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd and Veerasammy Permaul.
Guyana’s one area of concern is their opening partnerships. Their only 50-run opening stand was registered in the first round against Jamaica at Providence.
While Tagenarine Chanderpaul made 84 in the last round the 21-year-old left-hander needs to show a bit more positivity, while Chanderpaul Hemraj has two fifties but needs to temper his aggression and build on starts.
It will not be a major surprise if 20-year-old Akshaya Persaud replaces Hemraj at the top of the order in familiar conditions on a slow track.
West Indies ‘A’ team fast bowler Keon Joseph will spearhead the attack with pace support from Paul and Rutherford, while the tournament’s leading wicket-taker Permaul (26) and fellow left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie should take care of the spin with back-up from occasional leg-spinner Johnson on a track that should favour spin.
Nobody in the Barbados team has scored a century this season and only Anthony Alleyne and Shayne Moseley have more than one half-century, while Shamarah Brooks, Jonathan Carter, Justin Greaves, Kenroy Williams, Ashley Nurse and Kevin Stoute are all capable with the bat.
Spinner Jomal Warrican (14) is Pride’s leading wicket-taker, while Williams (13) and Stout (10) were also among the wickets for the Bajans while Shamar Springer and Keon Harding should bite to their bowling attack and with six Bajans selected for the New Zealand Test series they should be hard pressed the beat Guyana in the own back yard.
Guyana Jaguars: Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Akshaya Persaud, Vishaul Singh, Leon Johnson, Shiv Chanderpaul, Anthony Bramble, Kemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Veerasammy Permaul, Gudakesh Motie, Keon Joseph, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Romario Shepherd.
Barbados Pride: Shamarah Brooks, Anthony Alleyne, Jonathan Carter, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Aaron Jones, Shayne Moseley, Ashley Nurse, Mario Rampersaud, Shamar Springer, Kevin Stoute, Jomel Warrican, Kenroy Williams.
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