With four commanding wins under their belts from six matches the Guyana Amazon Warriors sits in joint second place on eight points with defending champions the Jamaica Tallawahs whom they will take on today for the second time in this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League tournament.
Though they are each on eight points the Tallawahs have played only five matches and have a better net run rate of +0.727 to the Warriors + 0.341.
Today’s match will give the Warriors an opportunity to avenge their defeat to the Tallawahs and move into sole second place.
Today, the Amazon Warriors will look to break their curse of losing to the Jamaicans in every match they have played so far including last year’s final which must still hurt.
Playing at home in front of a sold out, raucous Guyana crowd at the Providence National Stadium last week they came close but the champs upset the home team as the Warriors lost by a mere four runs in their pursuit of a 149-run target despite having eight wickets intact.
Now the table has turned and it is the Jamaicans who will now be playing on home soil at the famous Sabina Park.
Two seemingly evenly matched sides will now look to assert their alpha status for the second time in the tourney.
Guyana has so far failed to tap into the resources of their batters both local and international. A line up which includes the likes of Mohammed Hafeez, Martin Guptill, Denesh Ramdin, James Neesham, Chris Barnwell, Leon Johnson and others should have teams wary of sending them in to bat.
However, Neesham, like Hafeez and Guptill has not yet flexed his muscles.
Rather, it seems as if the strapping all-rounder has not yet switched from Test mode to the more aggressive format of the game.
With two consecutive centuries in two Tests against the West Indies last month, Neesham has been ordinary for the Warriors in both departments, failing to live up to his explosive nature with the bat despite chipping in with a few runs here and there in addition to having seven wickets to his name.
Meanwhile, Hafeez, who looked totally unlike the Hafeez the world is accustomed to, bought himself a little more time after his smoking 10-ball 30 in the last match against Barbados.
Hafeez though, has not yet fully clicked with the bat while his aggression with the ball has seemingly dipped below his usual standards.
Guptill himself has recorded a few half-centuries but still doesn’t look the confident opener he usually is especially against the slower bowlers while Barnwell has matured in his offensive approach to the game but still needs to adapt to situations better and refrain from throwing away his wicket.
The skipper Ramdin has been in good form with the bat and the gloves while his team will depend on his good run, he will also be asked to maintain a good, positive head for the remainder of matches.
However the Warriors Golden Boy is obviously the Trinidadian Lendl Simmons who has been in sparkling form since the Indian Premier League, form that he has taken into the CPL making him the second leading run scorer of the tournament behind Barbados’ Dwayne Smith.
The right-hander has so far amassed 224 runs at an average of 44.80 with two half-centuries including a top score of 68 not out and is the backbone of the Warriors batting line up.
In the Tallawahs camp, things are a bit brighter with the likes of Gayle, Chadwick Walton, Jermaine Blackwood, Andre Russell and Adam Voges stabilizing the top order.
Gayle and Walton have been devastating with the skipper recording the first century of the CPL along with two robust half-centuries while Walton himself has been able to reach the 50-run mark on one occasion.
Gayle will now look to take out his frustration on a Narine-less Guyana side while the lower-order batters will need to chip in for the cause if or when given the chance.
By now, the Warriors have learnt to deal with the sad reality that their weapon of mass destruction, Sunil Narine will be out for a few more games. They have so far not shown any glitches in the bowling department except that his replacement Steven Jacobs has not yet filled the role as expected but remains a decent spin option.
The core of the Warriors bowling lies in left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie, who has asserted himself as one of the best if not the best T20 medium pace bowler in the Caribbean, while left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul continues to be a wicket-taking option as well as a handy batsman.
The lively but still young Ronsford Beaton had a fairytale ending to the week.
Beaton, after serving up a nice juicy “half volley” to Darren Bravo who smashed it for six more runs than it was worth when Trinidad required six runs from the final delivery, was immediately flung under the bus.
Somehow, the right-arm pacer found the courage and soon rebounded when he was tasked to bowl the final over to the century maker Smith and Johnathan Carter in the last match with the Bajan’s needing 11 to win from the final over, a task he completed with great efficiency as Guyana won by seven-wickets.
Neesham and Barnwell, the two pure all-rounders in the side, are good bowlers who will surely need to take wickets when called upon during the middle passage of the game.
Jamaica has an equally good or even slightly better bowling unit with the likes of Jerome Taylor, Nikita Miller, Juan “Rusty” Theron, Russell and the experienced Daniel Vettori, all of whom have been consistent wicket-takers with the all-rounder Russell leading the pack with seven wickets.