Regional limited over giants Guyana will begin their quest to regain the KFC Cup they last won in 2005 when they take on Jamaica today in their semi final clash at the Three Ws’ Oval, Cave Hill, here.
The `giants’ have been weakened by the absence of their best two `bats’ and how strong they will be minus key players in West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and West Indies and Guyana batting linchpin Shivnarine Chanderpaul is anybody’s guess.
Sarwan played in the first two preliminary round games before injuring his right ankle during a game of ‘touch rugby’ prior to the final preliminary game against Trinidad and Tobago, while Chanderpaul has missed the entire tournament because of a `tennis elbow’injury.
Speaking with Stabroek Sport after their training session at the Kensington Oval on Tuesday, skipper Narsingh Deonarine said the players were worried following the loss of Sarwan prior to the Trinidad game which they eventually lost by four wickets.
“To lose Chanderpaul before the commencement of this competition was a blow to us, and when Sarwan got his injury on Saturday, the guys were a bit down spirited. Nevertheless, we will go out there and play to the best of our ability to win a place in the final on Sunday.”
With the loss of the two key players the onus will be on the more experienced players in the side to come through in a big way and Deonarine said that it was his expectation that the senior players, namely Reon King, Nagamootoo, Neil Mc Garrell and himself, play the kinds of role that would result in a Guyana victory.
“Presently, redemption for the loss to Trinidad in our last preliminary round game is first and foremost on our minds as we set out to regain the title we last won in 2005,” he said.
“Rest assured that once we play to our ability, we can come out on top against Jamaica on Thursday and that is our intention going into the game,” he added.
Amidst all this, the Guyanese batting led by Travis Dowlin, already with a century under his belt, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Royston Crandon, Deonarine and Assad Fudadin can still be expected to post a winning total against the Jamaican bowling attack.
Add former West Indies Under-19 player Leon Johnson, veterans Nagamootoo and Mc Garrell, the versatile Esaun Crandon and wicket-keeper Darwin Christian and Jamaica could be staring down the barrel of a big target.
The UWI pitch is expected to be a bit bouncy which will suit the Jamaican bowling attack led by West Indies speedsters Darren Powell and Jerome Taylor with support from Australia born, left-arm medium pacer Brendon Nash, who had the excellent figures of 1-11 from 10 overs in Jamaica’s last game against Barbados.
They will be supported by spinners Nikita Miller, Donovan Sinclair and captain Chris Gayle.
Though much will be expected of him, the Jamaican batting will not be all “Gayle Force.”
The West Indies opener is a tried and trusted soldier in the limited overs game and could be difficult to contain once he gets going.
But there are other forces in Brenton Parchment, Shawn Findlay, Danza Hyatt, Xavier Marshall, Tamar Lambert and Nash.
Former West Indies wicket keeper/batsman Carlton Baugh can also come into his own with the bat as well as Powell.
The Guyanese bowling attack will be led by former West Indies fast bowler Reon King, Esaun Crandon, his brother Royston, spin twins Nagamootoo and Mc Garrell along with off-spinner Deonarine.
With two possibly evenly-matched teams playing each other on a neutral venue, winning the toss could turn out to be a deciding factor in who wins the game.
But the weather will determine whether the game is played. Conditions are a bit overcast in Barbados while rain fell heavily Tuesday night.
Today’s game which will be a day/night affair starts at 2pm.
Teams: Guyana from: Narsingh Deonarine (captain), Sewnarine Chattergoon, Travis Dowlin, Royston Crandon, Assad Fudadin, Chris Barnwell, Gajanand Singh, Leon Johnson, Darwin Christian, Mahendra Nagamootoo, Neil Mc Garrell, Esaun Crandon, Reon King and Zaheer Mohammed. Albert Smith (Coach) and Carl Moore (Manager)
Jamaica from: Chris Gayle (captain), Brenton Parchment, Danza Hyatt, Shawn Findlay, Brendon Nash, Tamar Lambert, Carlton Baugh, Nikita Miller, Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor, Donovan Sinclair, Krishmar Santokie, Xavier Marshall and Andrew Richardson. Junior Bennett (Coach) and Milton Henry (Manager).