PREVIEW: Teams start early chase of JA

KINGSTOWN, ST VINCENT - Round II of the Regional Super50 Tournament kicks off on Wednesday morning with Barbados taking on Guyana in Bridgetown, Barbados. 

Because of the country's general elections, the game has been pulled a day forward as oppose to the two other games that will take place on Thursday morning. In the other two games, the Windward Islands will host Trinidad and Tobago at Arnos Vale, while Jamaica and the Combined Campuses & Colleges meet in Kingston.

Jamaica lead the seven-team table on 5 points, gaining a bonus point, having achieved a run rate of 1.25 times that of Barbados in the first round. Guyana and the Windward Islands are second and third respectively, having picked up routine over the Leeward Islands and the CCC.

But if it's anything to go by after Round I, Jamaica look set to fight to retain their title. Thanks to Nkrummah Bonner's 110, they were able to limp to 239/8 from their 50 overs. Alarmingly, only two other batsmen went past 20 runs in the innings.

But Jamaica's strength has shown to be their bowling. They also suffered a batting collapse in their Regional 4-Day game, but bounced back, dismissing Barbados twice for under 200. But it's only their bowling, but their fielding, which will aid heavily in the shorter form of the game. Jamaica have their catches, and created pressure in the field, and with that, they've been able to stifle their opponents out of scoring, which is the basis of the game.

There were not stand out bowlers that helped restrict Barbados to just 164 in their Round I Super50 game. Sheldon Cotterell took two wickets, so did Nikita Miller, but instead it's been a collective effort between the bowlers and fielders.

Their opponents, the CCC will face a daunting task at Sabina Park. As they have been doing this season, from a losing position, they've managed to claw their way back into games, and that's they did against the Windwards last week. There a great concerns with their batting; it is heavily dependent on opener Chadwick Walton, and all rounder Raymon Reifer.

Both scored over half the runs in CCC's 207 all out against the Windwards. From a position of 135/3, the Windwards were stumbled to 186/9 to win. Akeem Dewar has been the CCC's sensation. There's always question and a confused face when he is picked ahead of spinner, Derone Davis, but he's been the main man for CCC when they need wickets, in both the Regional 4-Day and Super50. If the CCC can be as competitive as they have been this year, they might be able to sneak over the line for a change.

Across at Arnos Vale, the Windwards will be hoping they can do the double over T&T. The latter will open up their Super50 campaign on Thursday but if you're looking for momentum from the Red Force, you won't find it. They'll still be fresh from a two and half day loss to the Windwards in the Regional 4-Day. T&T send home Imran Khan, spinner Amit Jaggernauth, and Yannic Cariah. They bring in leg-spinner Samuel Badree, and the Ottley brothers, Kjorn and Yannick.

But it's not all doom and gloom for T&T. They've been close to excellent in the shorter formats of cricket, and to say that even 50 overs would be too long for the Twenty20 champions to bat will be over-critical, at least before we see the performance. 

For the Windwards, there's a new confidence streaming around this team, a belief. Devon Smith has been in top form this season, and you know that when people start associating his name for the West Indies team. Along with young Tyrone Theophile; they've both given the Windwards great starts this season. On the bowling front, if Shane Shillingford recovers in time from the flu, their added attack will surely give T&T a great run for the double.

But all before that, Barbados and Guyana meet at the Kensington Oval. It's a closely fought contest, ironically in the heart of election season in Barbados. Their batting collapses against Jamaica was a cause for concern they managed to allay against Guyana in their second round Regional 4-Day match. They will be hoping they can continue scoring heavily in the 50 over game.

As for Guyana, the headlines didn't scream when they defeated the Leeward Islands by five wickets, for obvious reasons. However, in their chase of 163 for victory, only one batsman got to 30, and they lost five wickets in their pursuit. The ingredients for a great game has been mixed, and it will be interesting to see the table come Thursday night.

Wed, 02/20/2013 - 04:21