Leaders Jamaica and Windwards meet in TCL Group Challenge

There will be a top-of-the table clash when Jamaica meet Windward Islands in the fourth round of matches in the West Indies Cricket Board’s TCL Group Under-19 Challenge three-day tournament, on Tuesday. Both teams won in the third round on Sunday to move to 21 points and this set the stage for an intriguing clash when play starts at 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time) at Beausejour Cricket Stadium.

The Windwards were in brilliant form in the last round dismissing Guyana for 51 in the first innings en route to victory by seven wickets. Jamaica have been consistent throughout the tournament so far and earned a hard-fought five-wicket win over the Leeward Islands in the last round.

Both teams are confident going into the match, which could decide the eventual winners of the tournament. Windwards manager Shawn Edwards said his players have been showing improvement and he expects then to continue their progress. Their leading players are allrounder Kaveem Hodge and opener Dennis Smith, who have been excellent with the bat.

“We have been playing good cricket over the last few years and I am confident we will continue that progress in this match against Jamaica and for the rest of the tournament. The guys did some work in their individual islands and we had a one-week camp before the start of the tournament and that has made a big difference for us,” Edwards said.

“We are very confident going into the fourth game. Jamaica have been one of the teams we have had success against in recent times. They beat us last year at home but we had the better of them in 2008 at the Kensington Oval in Barbados. It’s been a mixed bag. Given the kind of cricket we have played in this campaign I am confident we have what it takes to overcome them at Beausejour.”

Jamaica coach Robert Samuels was confident after his side’s training session on Tuesday. The Jamaicans have the tournament’s leading batsman Jermaine Blackwood, who has played key innings in all three matches so far. The 18-year-old right-hander made a memorable double-century in the second round.

“I am expecting it to be what it is – a top of the table clash. The Windwards will be playing at home and they have been playing some good cricket. We had a hiccup at the start but right now we are playing some good cricket,” said the former Jamaica skipper and West Indies batsman. “If we do our best it should be good enough. I am expecting a very good game. We have a few niggling injuries in the camp, but nothing major. We should have a full squad to choose from.”
Barbados are in third position on 18 points – just three behind the leaders and they have a date with Guyana, who are on fourth on 15 points, at Dennery Playing Field. The Barbados batting has been strong with Clint St Hill and Roston Chase being among the leading players, while spinner Jomel Warrican has been excellent with the ball.  For Guyana, right-arm leg-spinner Amir Khan has been the leading player with a haul of 22 wickets in three matches played so far. In the other match Trinidad and Tobago (12 points) face Leeward Islands (three points) at Gros Islet Playing Field.

“I feel very comfortable how the team has been playing and we are looking for maximum points against Guyana. We have to play to look for a win to be in with a chance. We have to win to be in it and we must play positive cricket in our remaining two games,” said Dexter Toppin, the Bajan coach.Guyana’s manager Alvin Johnson noted that his team is up for the challenges ahead.

“We will have stronger challenges in our final two matches as the teams we will be coming up against have been traditionally strong teams in this competition. Our batting has been a major let down and we hope the players will pull some weight in that department in the remaining fixtures,” Johnson said.

Standings after the third round:
Windward Islands 21 points
Jamaica 21
Barbados 18
Guyana 15
Trinidad and Tobago 12
Leeward Islands 3

Fourth round of matches on July 20, 21, 22
Jamaica vs Windward Islands at Beausejour Cricket Ground
Trinidad and Tobago vs Leeward Islands at Gros Islet Playing Field
Guyana vs Barbados at Dennery Playing Field