By Sean Devers in Antigua
In association with Vnet Communications,
Bounty Farm, Noble House Seafoods &
This evening from 14:00hrs the only two unbeaten teams in Zone ‘B’ of the Regional Super50 Festival clash under lights in a Day/Night encounter at the Coolidge ground which was once the home of the Standford T20 Tournament.
Guyana Jaguars, with wins over English County side Kent and the USA, face off with the Leewards Hurricanes, who had victories over USA and Jamaica Scorpions.
Today the South American Franchise will know that this game against the Scorpions is a step up in weight-class and should provide their toughest challenge yet.
The home team will fancy their chances against a team that has won four consecutive First-Class titles but won the last of their 10 Regional 50-over tiles 13 years ago when Shiv Chanderpaul led them to the KFC Cup at Bourda.
The Leewards won their first of seven titles when Sir Vivian Richards led them to the 1978 title but has not tasted Championship success since sharing the 2010 title with Barbados when a moment of madness from Tino Best gifted them a Tie in Jamaica.
However, this is a different era and teams are now allowed to select players from outside of their Countries. The Leewards overseas players have made the biggest impact to their team this season with Trinidadian left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein picking up a five wicket haul in the first game and Jamaican Marlon Samuels scoring a century in their second game.
Rakeem Cornwall’s 132 in their win over USA make the Scorpions the only team with two centurions, while their win over Jamaica, one of the pre-tournament favourites would leave them brimming with confidence.
While Shimron Hetmyer became the 12th Guyanese to score a Regional 50-over ton with his destructive 103 in the last game, the openers have not managed to build a solid foundation in the two matches, while bowling at the backend of an innings is a cause for concern as it was in the Four-Day tournament.
The Jaguars had some injury scares with Romario Shepherd (who missed the last match) and Shiv Chanderpaul who retired hurt on eight against the USA, both suffering from minor niggles.
However, everyone is fit for today clash which will be the last for Bajan Raymon Reifer, who leaves for Windies ‘A’ team duties and will be replaced by Chris Barnwell who is expected to arrive here today.
This Jaguars’ team is littered with young aggressive batsmen like Hetmyer, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Sherfane Rutherford, Kemo Paul, Anthony Bramble and Clinton Pestano, while Chanderpaul, the oldest player in the tournament and 30-year-old Skipper Leon Johnson, both with fifties so far, gives the batting balance. Test all-rounder Reifer bats with a level head in addition to bowling quality left-arm Seam.
The track at Coolidge seems slow with some turn for the spinners and thought the ground is a small one, Hurricanes’ spinners Cornwall, Samuels, Hosein and Justin Athaneze bowled well against a batting line with included Gayle and Russell in their last game and could be a worry for the Jaguars line-up which has seven left-handers in it.
Jeremiah Louis, Mervin Matthew and Sheno Berridge could provide pace option for the Scorpions who will depend on Samuels, Cornwall, Keiran Powell, Devon Thomas and Montcin Hodge with the bat.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul should relish the pitch if not the size of the ground and should trouble the Scorpions batsmen, while the pacers, especially Rutherford and Pestano should know that it could be a risk over using the short ball on this surface and on a ground which smaller than Warner Park in St Kitts.
Some of the Jaguars players including Johnson and Manager Rayon Griffith attended the second half of Leewards/Jamaica on Friday night.
Jaguars: Leon Johnson (Capt), Shimron Hetymer, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ricardo Adams, Sherfane Rutherford, Anthony Bramble, Raymond Reifer, Kemo Paul, Davindra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Ramaal Lewis, Romario Shepherd and Clinton Pestano.
Hurricanes: Keiran Powell (Capt), Devon Thomas, Keacy Carty, Montcin Hodge, Terrance Ward, Jahmar Hamilton, Rakeem Cornwall, Jeremiah Louis, Mervin Matthew, Sheno Berridge, Akeal Hosein, Marlon Samuels, Justin Athaneze and Kevin Cooper.
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