By Sean Devers
Four-time finalist Guyana Amazon Warriors waltz into the Jamaica Tallawahs’ cage from 20:00hrs (Guy time) tonight at Sabina Park in Kingston; the largest City in the Caribbean, knowing it was the Jamaicans that spoiled their party in the inaugural final in 2013 and again the 2016 final.
These two teams have played each other 14 times with Tallawahs winning seven, Warriors wining six while the other game was abandoned in Jamaica.
The 2019 CLP second leading run scorer (205) and only centurion Chris Gayle, who turns 40 next month led them to both titles and top-scored in both finals.
The ‘Universe Boss’ holds the record for most sixes (958), most runs (13,013) and most centuries (22) in T20 matches after scoring the first T20 International century in 2006 T20 World Cup in South Africa.
The Universe Boss is now back with his home team after an absence of two years and could be the Warriors’ biggest threat if he gets going tonight for a team that has struggled badly this season in the seventh Edition of the Hero CPL T20 tournament.
The Warriors were just ahead of second place Trinbago Knight Riders prior to their game last night against the Patriots, and it was expected that the TKR side would win and go to 10 points from five matches. The Warriors will be keen to beat the Tallawahs and join TKR on 10 points from five matches.
Tallawahs have lost the services their superstar Andre Russell who was struck on his helmet and Jermaine Blackwood has come in as his cover, while Barbadian Dwayne Smith replaced Rovman Powell who suffered an abdominal strain but despite just a single win against Barbados Tridents in five games they still can qualify for the fourth spot.
Tonight’s game is a must-win situation for the home team which could potentially make the Franchise from the Land of Wood and Water, more dangerous.
Gayle’ four centuries in CPL is the joint record with Dwayne Smith, who made a duck in his first match for the Tallawahs against the Tridents in their last match, while opener New Zealander Glen Phillip has been very consistent with 162 runs.
Chadwick Walton (166), George Worker, Javelle Glen and Ramaal Lewis, gives the Tallawahs a powerful batting line-up.
With their most experienced bowler Jerome Taylor being dropped after an expensive spell, which included four free-hits against TKR, left arm spinners Christopher Lamont, 20-year-old Zahir Khan from Afghanistan and Worker along with off-spinner Lewis bowled the bulk of the overs in their victory against the Tridents.
Green and South African Jade Dernbach could provide the pace on what should be a good track and fast outfield.
While the results record favours the hosts, this is a young, talented and hungry Warriors team with only 40-year-old leg-spinner Imran Tahir who replaced fellow leg-spinner Shadab Khan (departed after the home games for international duties for Pakistan) and 37-year-old Pakistani, Shoib Malik, are not in their 20s.
The 24-year-old Berbician fast bowling all-rounder Romario Shepherd has been very impressive and his seven wickets is only second to TKR’s Jimmy Neesham.
Kemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford could be the other pace options in a team with two leg-spinners (Tahir and 19-year-old Qais Ahmad from Afghanistan), two off-spinners (Aussie Chris Green and Malik) and a useful part-time left-arm spinner in Chanderpaul Hemraj.
Hemraj, the Warriors’ leading run scorer with 138 runs, Shimron Hetmyer (104) and Nicolas Pooran (79) have all gotten half-centuries while Brandon King, another young and talented West Indian, just missed a half-century when he was run out for 49.
Rutherford and Paul, who made 38 in his only innings, have contributed with the bat and got support from overseas players Malik and Green (impressive with both bat and ball) while the young age of the players makes the Warriors one of the better fielding teams in the tournament.
The catching will again come under scrutiny tonight since the floodlights at Sabina Park are less than the ideal height for cricket at this level.
The crowd, which should not be short of Guyanese supporters, should be a large one tonight at Sabina Park for the Tallawahs fourth home game in the biggest party in Sports.
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