By Sean Devers
If there are two things about Guyanese that stands out it’s that they reside in almost every country in the world and their passion for cricket. So it was no surprise when thousands of Guyanese fans invaded the ground in Florida which was the Tallawahs new home ground and made the venue ‘little Guyana’ as they urged their team to a commanding win which was spearheaded by a magnificent maiden even T20 century from 21-year-old Shimron Hetymer.
In that game, Warriors notched up their only 200 total (209-7) and then sent the Jamaicans packing for 138 to leave the CPL head-to-head record between the two team at nine wins to Warriors and six to Tallawahs from 15 matches heading into tonight’s battle.
Tallawahs Skipper Andre Russell became so emotional by the partisan support for the South Americans in North America that he complained bitterly that it was unfair for the Guyanese to take over Jamaica’s yard.
With an anticipated capacity crowd of over 15,000 flag waving Warriors fans in the stands, Russell will have to find a way to combat the eleven players on the field and the raucous twelfth man beyond the boundary, especially without leggie Adam Zampa who has returned to State Cricket in Australia.
The Warriors, second to TRK, on 10 points from eight games, will play in conditions which will favour them against a team which has also qualified for the play-offs with 10 points from nine matches.
Tallawahs along with the Trinis have two titles each in five-year history of the CPL while the Warriors have made it to every semi-final while reaching the finals three times. However, the Warriors have been unable to make the transition from Bridesmaid to Bride.
Russell, Keiron Pollard and Hetymer have been the only batsmen to score tons, but Russell has only managed 32 runs from seven innings after his belligerent unbeaten 121 in the first match against TKR.
And although Tallawahs has the most 200 plus totals (3) including their 225-6 against TRK when 448 runs were scored at the Queen’s Park Oval, only Glen Phillips (327) and Rovman Powell (259) with two fifties each have reached 200 runs.
Johnson Charles (197), the burly Kemar Lewis (182), and the overseas pair of Ross Taylor (127) and David Miller (186) will need to contribute tonight with the bat for the visitors. The 30-year-old Russell and his team mate 21-year-old and genuinely quick Oshane Thomas lead the tournament wicket-takers with 14 each while pacers Krishmar Santokie and Kemar Roach could find the Providence track not that appealing.
Tallawahs has left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, leg-spinner Samuel Badree and off-spinner Steven Jacobs as options. The Warriors, beaten by Jamaica in the inaugural final in 2013 and again in 2016 final, will want to rebound from their third loss last Wednesday in Trinidad with wins tonight and tomorrow night against TKR, to take the top spot.
Tallawahs will hope that the Warriors lose both matches this weekend in order for the Jamaicans to finish behind TKR with 12 points. So tonight is a massive game for both teams. While the Warriors have won five matches, Hetymer, who seem to want to score as quickly as he could and at times has given his wicket away, has the most runs but has not gotten enough support.
Luke Ronchi scored 67 of his 179 runs from eight innings, in his last game while Chadwick Walton (122) and Jason Mohammed (112) are the only other batsmen with 100 runs but have both struggled and need to step up tonight as will Cameron Delport, who has just managed 53 runs from four innings.
At 39, Pakistani leg-spinner Imran Tahir has 13 wickets at an economy rate of 6.03 and should relish bowling at Providence while fellow Pakistani 33-year-old left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir has eight wickets.
Australian Chris Green is arguable the best off-spinner in the tournament and his six scalps have come at an economy rate of 6.05. He could get plenty of support tonight, especially from those in Green Stand.
Kemo Paul was rested in the last two games with slight injury and could replace Roshan Primus tonight while Romario Shepherd took three wickets on debut and was one of the few bright spots in a dismal game in Trinidad.
Skipper Reyad Emrit has had a poor time with the ball; conceding 300 runs from 28.1 overs with four wickets and seemed reluctant to utilise Sherfane Rutherford’s medium pace when the all-rounder has played.
Tonight’s game starts at 20:00hrs and Warriors fans are being encouraged to create a sea of yellow in the stands while it is hoped the officiating will improve in a tournament which has been plagued by the worst Umpiring in the history of the CPL.
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