Jaguars’ face-off with Volcanoes on Thursday
By Sean Devers in Antigua
In association with Vnet Communications,
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Since Sunil Narine’s mesmerising spell of 6-9 at the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad sent the Jaguars reeling for their lowest ever Regional 50-over total (65) in the Final in 2015, this is the first time Guyana has been able to reach the semi-finals of a 50-over tournament.
With six wins from eight matches the Jaguars finished top of group B in the 2018 Regional Super50 Festival and will play Windwards Volcanoes in the second semi-final at Coolidge on Thursday in a day night game from 14:00hrs.
Guyana has won nine titles since their first in 1980 when, led by 119 from Skipper Roy Fredericks, they beat the Leewards Islands right here in Antigua. But their last title was achieved 13 years ago when Shiv Chanderpaul led them to Championship honours with victory against Barbados.
The four-times defending Regional four-day Champions have only won both titles in the same season twice. Clive Lloyd in 1983 and Roger Harper in 1993 and this is Leon Johnson’s chance to join the pair in winning the ‘double’.
But first they must get past the Volcanoes on Thursday night if they hope to dethrone reigning Champions Barbados to claim their tenth regional 50-overs title.
“It feels great to have reached the semi-finals. I think we played descent cricket to reach this stage of the competition,” said the 36-year-old Jaguars Head Coach Esuan Crandon.
It was not a perfect campaign for the Jaguars here in Antigua with only Test batsman Shimron Hetmyer scoring a century for Guyana, although Johnson, who has had an up and down tournament with the bat, was run out for 99.
Without Hetmyer and Devendra Bishoo due to Windies World Cup duties and Raymon Reifer and Kemo Paul for Windies ‘A’ team commitments, their task of winning the ‘double’ for the first time in 25 years will be a tough one.
“We are anticipating a very tough semi-final match from the Volcanoes on Thursday. There’s a lot of stuff we have to tighten up on moving forward and we intend work on those areas at our next practice session on tomorrow (today),” the former Guyana fast bowler informed.
After winning their first three games in succession, the Jaguars found themselves in a must win final game against Jamaica Scorpions, a game which they made harder than it should have been.
Crandon explained that the team will be looking at the mistakes in the last match and during the tournament and trying to learn from them.
“I thought we started poorly in the power play over in the last match…. giving the openers too many free boundaries early which give them the momentum. But Rutherford came on and along with Permaul and the other spinners bowled beautifully to bring back the game,” said Crandon, who hails from Rose Hall Town in Berbice.
Crandon said the bowlers didn’t execute the plan to the lower order. Alwyn Williams and Odean Smith shared in an unfinished 59-run eight-wicket stand from just 25 balls to lift the Scorpions from 205-8.
“I thought the last four overs we lacked clarity and basic awareness at that point of time and bowled in the areas that Williams and Smith wanted us to bowl, hence shifting the momentum back into the Jamaicans favour at half time,” Crandon pointed out.
“Brandon (Tagenarine Chanderpaul) and (Chanderpaul) Hemraj give us the ideal start until he (Tagenarine) gave his wicket away. The partnership between Hemraj and (Chris) Barnwell actually won us the match,” noted Crandon.
“I thought the innings was well paced by both Hemraj and Barnwell making it easier for us at the end…it was unfortunate we lost six wickets in the process,” added the Coach.
Johnson’s again demonstrated astute Captaincy, especially when he put in a short-leg for the off-spinner to the new batsman who gloved a catch to that fielder off the first ball he faced.
“Well I have said it over and over that I think Leon is the best captain in the region and his field placements and tactical awareness were spot on,” informed Crandon.
Crandon disclosed that everyone was happy to be back in a semi-final and is confident that if the team plays to its full potential they will be taking the US$10,000 and Championship Trophy back to Guyana as a Republic Anniversary gift to the Nation.
Guyana will celebrate its 48th Republic Anniversary the day before the Final is played on February 24.
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