FINAL SHOWDOWN: T&T, JA set
By Adriel Richard
PROVIDENCE, Guyana, CMC – Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, arguably the two best sides in the regional game, meet in the Final of the Regional Super50 tournament on Saturday at the Guyana National Stadium as many people predicted and wanted.
T&T, the reigning Caribbean Twenty20 champions, will be looking to become the undisputed limited-overs kings of the region, and Jamaica will be looking to complete the regional double, having wrapped up the first-class championship for a fourth straight season earlier this year.
It’s hard to pick a favourite – both sides are packed with so much talent and overcame several challenges along the way, least of all in the semi-finals to reach the bright lights of the Final, but T&T will carry a psychological boost into the contest, having beaten the Jamaicans when they crossed paths in the final group match.
T&T prevailed over hosts Guyana by four wickets in the weather-delayed, first semi-final on Wednesday at the same venue, and their captain Daren Ganga has been around long enough to know that this will be no cakewalk.
“Jamaica are a very good team,” he told the CMC Sports Wire. “But what has been working for us throughout this tournament has been our planning and our smartness towards the game.
“I think we are very disciplined and honest about conditions and situations, and all credit must go to our guys for the manner in which they have been playing.”
Ganga said playing a surfeit of Twenty20 matches in the last few months leading up to and including the Champions League in India has brought some challenges.
“We have come from playing a lot of T20 matches and it has not been easy for us to transition to this longer format,” he said.
“We have been coping pretty well, and hopefully, we can bring it all together on Saturday and we will have a title to show for our efforts.
“We have fond memories of winning our previous RS50 title in Guyana and we will use some of that to motivate us to make sure we have something to take back home.”
T&T are likely to field the same 11 that played the semi-final against the Guyanese unless there is some major rethink or injury setback.
There only concern last Wednesday was long-standing left-arm chinaman Dave Mohammed looked a little vulnerable, coughing up 23 runs from three overs.
They could give consideration to bringing leg-spin all-rounder Imran Khan into the line-up for his first match. This would add more potency to an already powerful the spin bowling attack and also boost the batting.
It’s hard to even suggest that Jamaica are the underdogs. They maybe slightly, after losing to T&T in the group matches and surviving a scare from the livewire West Indies High Performance Centre side chasing a modest target on Thursday in the second semi-final.
Their famously unruffled captain Chris Gayle admitted to being rattled, but he is convinced that the last two games his side has played were all a blip on the radar.
“We will take the win because that the objective of the game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you win, once you win and I am thankful for that result.
“We panicked a bit in the middle, but I am happy with the victory, and hopefully, things will be a lot smoother for us in the Final.”
Gayle said his side is eager to win to settle a few old scores with T&T and prove to critics that they can be a competitive force in the limited-overs format, having dominated the longer version of the game over the last few years.
“Our first objective coming to Guyana was to reach the Final, and we have achieved it,” he said. “Our next objective is to win the title. We do not just want to turn up and play. We want to win.
“It’s been four years since we have won the RS50 title and what better way than to beat T&T, the No.1 limited-overs side in the region.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for us to make a big statement. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Gayle acknowledged the batting has been inconsistent in the competition and he will carry an enormous responsibility on his shoulders.
“The top of the order will be the key,” he said. “We’ll see if I can give the team a good start because that will be critical.
“That’s how most teams view things with me in the team. Get me out and the rest of the guys will panic, but I am confident in the rest of the batting to get the job done, as we did in the semi-finals and have been doing throughout the tournament.”
Jamaica’s batting was slightly weakened with Danza Hyatt sidelined with an ankle injury he picked up in that group match against T&T. If he is fit, it will give a firmer look to the middle, and Jermaine Blackwood may have to make room, despite his top score in the semi-final.
The bowling appears settled, although West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor has been with the side and has mysteriously not played a match, reports indicating he had a niggling injury.
He practised a few deliveries on the grass during the semi-final and looked fine, but if he is fit, it will be a hard to see where he will fit into the side, since Andre Russell and Krishmar Santokie have performed their roles, and it may be risky to shorten the batting, although Taylor is no mug with the bat.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (from): Daren Ganga (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Rayad Emrit, Sherwin Ganga, Justin Guillen, Stephen Katwaroo, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Dave Mohammed, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, William Perkins
JAMAICA: Chris Gayle (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Odean Brown, Elliott, Shawn Findlay, Danza Hyatt, Tamar Lambert, Kennar Lewis, Xavier Marshall, Nikita Miller, Andre Russell, Krishmar Santokie, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton
UMPIRES: Gregory Brathwaite, Nigel Duguid
TV UMPIRE: Goaland Greaves
MATCH REFEREE: Adrian Griffith
RESERVE UMPIRE: Lennox Abraham