Special semis for Final Four
By Adriel Richard
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – There is something extra-special about reaching the semi-finals of the Regional Super50 tournament for all four teams taking part.
Hosts Guyana face Trinidad & Tobago in the first semi-final on Wednesday under the lights at the Guyana National Stadium, where the second semi-final also takes place under the lights the following day between Jamaica and West Indies High Performance Centre.
For the Guyanese, it means that they keep local interest in the competition strong and they have defied all expectations by reaching this far.
They have struggled in the Regional first-class championship in recent times, but they always seem to find a little more effort to be far more competitive in the limited-overs versions of the game.
“We have started well and we have good momentum,” said Guyana coach Mark Harper. “We have as good a chance as the next team.
“We have some good players that will fight all the way, but we recognise that T&T are a tough side and this will be a tough game for us.
“It will be important for the players to remain focussed and try to execute our game plan, but I think the team that bats well will win this game, since the spin bowling in particular on both sides is strong and we should be able to match them.”
For T&T, it is an achievement, following their stunning defeat at the hands of the Combined Campuses & Colleges in their opening match of the tournament.
Reaching the semi-finals also makes up for last year’s aberration, when they failed to make it out of the preliminary competition.
It also put them back in line to win a competition they last won two years ago at the same venue, and give them a chance to become the undisputed limited-overs champions of the region, having won the last Caribbean Twenty20 Championship.
“We are looking forward to playing against Guyana, since they have home advantage,” said T&T captain Daren Ganga. “But we are prepared for them.
“We have had some competitive matches with the Guyanese in the recent past, particularly in the shorter versions of the game, so we know that this will be a big game for us.”
T&T have been weakened by an arm injury to Kieron Pollard that has forced him to return home following the match against Leeward Islands last Saturday.
Dwayne Bravo sustained a leg injury during the last preliminary game against the Jamaicans, but he is expected to be fully fit.
For Jamaica, they are trying to prove that they can play one of the shorter versions of the game just as well as they do the longer version, after winning the Regional first-class championship for the last four years.
Jamaica captain Chris Gayle said he would not take the HPC lightly, after all, they had punched above their weight to reach the semi-finals.
“I want to congratulate them for reaching the semi-finals as a young team, but we are confident, not complacent and it will be business as usual,” said Gayle.
“It’s the first time in four years that we have reached the semi-finals and we are looking to win just like we did the last time we got this far.”
For the HPC, they will be looking to provide evidence that the last two years have not been a complete waste of time and that there is talent in these islands upon which West Indies can build for the future.
“It does not get any easier from here,” said HPC captain Shamarh Brooks. “If we are looking to win this tournament, we have to grab the bull by the horns and take whatever chance comes our way.
“If it means getting over Jamaica, that’s what we will have to do, and at the end of the day, if enter the match and play our game as we know it, I think we should be able to come out on top.”
The Final of the tournament will also be contested under the lights at the Stadium on Saturday with Sunday set aside as a reserve day.