The St Lucia Zouks defeated Guyana Amazon Warriors by five wickets at Providence in their first match against each other in CPL T20 cricket back in 2013, while the last time they met at Daren Sammy Stadium last year, St Lucia again won by six wickets.
And when the bell rings this Evening at 18:00hrs what is anticipated to be a capacity partisan crowd will be expecting a winning start for the home team, which oppose St Kitts & Nevis Patriots on Saturday and Barbados Pride on Sunday in their first three matches.
Skipper Sammy, the first St Lucian to play Test Cricket, says he is focused on leading Zouks to its first title this year, while using the seventh edition of the Hero CPL, as an audition to get back into International cricket.
Sammy, who has had luke-warm tournaments over the last two seasons, said he is aiming to lead from the front.
The experienced 35-year Sammy has played 68 T20 Internationals and led West Indies to their only two T20 World Cup victories.
Apart for Guyana’s IPL trio this year, Chris Barnwell joins Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shiv Chanderpaul as the only other Guyanese to play in the IPL. Tonight Barnwell is to set play for the visiting team which Sammy described as the most consistent team; reaching the semis twice in addition to their four runners-up placing.
Sammy said that Barnwell brings experience to the team and if he plays tonight he is expected to perform well.
Warriors Captain Malik said that while he agreed with Sammy on the Warriors’ consistency, the team was taking one game at a time to reach the semis and take it from there.
For the first time in the history of the CPL, the Warriors have eight local players in their squad including the three 22 years and under who participated in the 2019 IPL.
“We are not looking so far ahead (winning the CPL) and we don’t have senior and junior players when we are on the field,” informed the 37-year-old Pakistani.
“Those players who have played many International games will look to mentor the young players to help prepare them for West Indies teams,” Malik explained when asked about his relationship with the young players.
Sherfane Rutherford, who turned 21 last month, 21-year-old Keemo Paul and 22-year-old Shimron Hetmyer have all played in this year’s IPL, but Hetymer had been off the boil since the IPL.
When asked what was Hetmyer’s role as ‘Director of batting’ Head Coach Johan Botha said he was unaware that it was an official role but added that the Berbician carried the batting last year but this year he has several others who are capable of helping him.
“We have three local players who have just played in the IPL and that’s a plus for us and if everyone does well then it’s a bonus but if just a few perform we will have enough performers to win matches.”
The Warriors had two practice matches on Monday when Brandon King made 66 and Chanderpaul Hemraj (44) added 88 for the first wicket in 7.2 overs and another on Tuesday but the games were marred by the malfunctioning of some of the lights on Monday and a complete Blackout after the Warriors innings had ended which resulted in Tuesday’s game being abandoned.
On a track which had some grass on it yesterday, the ball should come onto the bat more than it did in the practice games but Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who had 3-14 in the last Warm-up game and off-spinners Malik and Australian Chris Green, who could get plenty of support from the fans in the ‘Green’ stand, could be the Warriors’ main weapon.
Ben Laughlin, Keemo Paul and Romario Shepherd should offer pace support while King, Hemraj, Malik, Hetmyer, Rutherford, Nicolas Pooran (who do the wicket-keeping duties) and the all-rounders should provide the bulk of the runs for the Warriors.
Andre Fletcher, John Campbell, Andre McCarthy, all rounders Thisara Perera from Sri Lanka, Rakeem Cornwall, Sammy and Barnwell could do batting, while Krishmar Santokie who replaces Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga for the first two games, could lead the bowling attack.
The Warriors also has a replacement with Qais Ahamad coming in for Saurabh Netravalkar who is representing the USA at the International level.
The West Indies four West Indies players (Cornwall, Campbell, Paul & Hetmyer) also with the Warriors assistant Coach Rayon Griffith arrived in Guyana yesterday from Jamaica.
E-Networks will provide TV coverage, while NCN Radio team of Inderjeet Persaud, Sean Devers will provide live Radio coverage with former Guyana pacer Jermaine Neblette and Roddy Lovell will do the analytical comments.
Guyana Amazon Warriors
Shoaib Malik (Capt), Shadab Khan, Ben Laughlin, Chris Green, Nicolas Pooran, Brandon King, Odean Smith, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Anthony Bramble, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Veerasammy Permaul, Romario Shepherd, Clinton Pestano, Qais Ahamad Johan Botha (Head Coach).
St Lucia Zouks
Daren Sammy (Captain), Keddy Lesporis, Chris Barnwell, Andre McCarthy, Jeavon Royal, Roland Cato, Rakeem Cornwall, Obed McCoy, John Campbell, Kesrick Williams, Andre Fletcher, Thisara Perera, Fawad Ahemd, Kaveem Hodge, Najibbulla Zadran, Kishmar Santokie, Hardus Viljoen, Colin de Grandhomme, James Foster (Head Coach). (Sean Devers)
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