With 375 sixes smashed at multiple venues across the Caribbean, a highlight reel of 190 catches, most of which left spectators in awe and 8313 runs scored by players both foreign and local; it comes down to two teams; the Barbados Tridents and the Guyana Amazon Warriors who take center stage today in the final of the 2014 Limacol Caribbean Premier League (LCPL) T20 tournament at Basseterre, St Kitts.
The two teams solidified their places in the final after comprehensively thumping their opponents, with Guyana steamrolling their way to a 10-wicket win over former champions Jamaica Tallawahs on Thursday.
The last time these two sides met was early in the tournament in game 14 when both teams were now hitting their straps. Opener Dwayne Smith struck an unbeaten 67-ball 104 while the consistent Shoaib Malik scored 50 as the chasing Bajans fell seven runs short their target of 173. The hero of that match was Warriors pacer Ronsford Beaton who held his nerve in the last over, bowling his team to a scintillating victory after being clobbered for a last ball six in the previous match against the Red Steel.
The Amazon Warriors have endured a few hiccups in the competition, losing games that were practically in their clutches, but now that they have cold-served a vengeful thumping to the Tallawahs, who they have only managed to beat once last season before losing to them in last year’s final, have now put the demons of the loss behind them and are looking to cross the line finally, now that they have second bite of the cherry.
The Warriors have been expert in their batting of late led by opener Lendl Simmons who is now the leading run-scorer with 426 runs at an average of 53 and four 50-plus scores. The Guyanese franchise will also depend on the in-form Martin Guptill, who has found his feet at the right time. The Kiwi opener is third on the list of top run scorers with 351 runs averaging close to 60 with five half centuries.
The openers have been devastating in this year’s tournament and with heaps of confidence under their belts after previous maulings they dished out to teams, the Bajans will be extra proactive in their approach.
Despite the bulk of runs scored by the two openers, skipper Denesh Ramdin, all-rounder James Neesham and the pugnacious Chris Barnwell, who has operated in the manner of being the team’s muscle down the order with his late power-hitting, will be called upon to flex their arms for the last time in this year’s competition.
Apart from cameos from Barnwell no other Guyanese player has stood out with the bat during this tournament and whichever Guyanese batsman is selected for this final encounter will certainly want to put their hands up high in a match which will definitely create a hero or villain story that will be remembered for years.
The Tridents on the other hand, have a batting formidable batting card with Smith already having two centuries under his belt and Pakistan’s Malik tied with Guptill on 351 runs. However, the opening combination has not quite gelled for the Tridents with the likes of Shane Dowrich being rotated and a few bench players coming to the forefront during the progression of the tournament.
However, the x-factor for Barbados has been Pakistan all-rounder Sohail Tanvir who has been a revelation with the bat, striking at 181 and averaging 37. The left-hander has been the rifleman for the Tridents at the bottom of the order and will play a crucial part in the event of a collapse.
Skipper Kieron Pollard has been more effective as a captain than an actual bowler or batter but still possesses the knowledge and class to dismantle most attacks especially one led by his fellow Trinidadian in Ramdin.
Head-to-head, Guyana has outplayed most if not all teams in this department. Led by left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie who has the second most wickets (14) behind Tridents fast-bowler Ravi Rampaul (18), Santokie could well be a key cog in today’s encounter once the West Indies T20 specialist can vary his pace and variation.
The magician Sunil Philip Narine, despite taking only seven wickets so far is still the most dangerous and mysterious off-spinner in limited overs cricket. His miserly ways and his various spellbinding deliveries will definitely come into effect today. Other bowlers like Ronsford Beaton, who can be wayward at times, Neesham, Veerasammy Permaul and Mohammed Hafeez will need to be more consistent during their spells.
Rampaul has been devastating and consistent during the 2014 LCPL, and his 18 scalps came from half the number of matches he played at a stingy average of 12.61. He is the leader of the Tridents bowling attack.
All-rounder Rayad Emrit, who found his touch like most players in the latter stages of the competition, has 11 wickets to his name and will play a huge part in the battles with his countrymen who play for the warriors.
The near seven feet tall Jason Holder has been good with the new ball but came in for some tap during his second spells but has seven wickets to his name so far, while Sri Lanka leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis can utilize the spin friendly conditions in Basseterre.
The match bowls off at 16:00hrs