BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Rain could spoil the premiere of the long-awaited Caribbean Twenty20 Trophy which is poised to bowl off here this evening.
Heavy showers lashed the island all day yesterday putting in doubt the start of the West Indies Cricket Board-sponsored event which gets going at Kensington Oval with a doubleheader.
A weather system is currently affecting the island and is expected to deliver more showers today.
Once play gets underway, hot favourites Trinidad and Tobago, who won the last regional T20 tournament in 2008, will raise the curtain on the tournament when they clash with guest team Canada at 4 pm in the first game of the doubleheader.
Powerhouses Jamaica, also installed as one of the raging hot favourites, will then battle the Leewards Islands in the second match starting at 8 pm.
The tournament represents the first time since the Allen Stanford-sponsored showpiece in 2008 that a regional T20 will be played in the Caribbean.
And with the big incentive a place at the Airtel Champions League in South Africa in September, all eight teams will be involved in a heated battle to win the tournament which climaxes with the final at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on July 31.
Trinidad and Tobago captain Daren Ganga said entering the tournament as defending champions would immediately put them under pressure.
“I think it’s huge expectations on the part of everyone. I think because of what we have accomplished in the last year, a lot of people expect us to go on and win this tournament so we have that burden of expectation,” said Ganga.
“As I’ve said before, it’s another tournament. What happened in the past doesn’t necessarily dictate what will happen in this tournament.
“It’s about taking it one day at a time. We’ve got two games in Barbados and we’re going to try as best as possible to do our best there.”
Canada, meanwhile, have been hit by key injuries which have depleted their squad for the tournament.
Fast bowler Khurram Chohan was a late withdrawal from the squad because of an injury sustained at the World Cricket League tournament in the Netherlands recently while the experienced Ashish Bagai was ruled out early with knee problems.
T&T, who played unbeaten to reach the final of the Champions League in India last year before losing to New South Wales Blues, will be heavy favourites to win the game.
Jamaica, meanwhile, boast an extremely strong side and will also be the favourites when they face Leewards in the night cap game.
The mighty Jamaicans include West Indies captain Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds and the resurgent Marlon Samuels in a squad led by Tamar Lambert.
Manager Courtney Francis said Samuels, the stylish right-hander who has played 29 Tests, had been a welcome addition to the squad following his year-long ban.
“Marlon has a role to play knowing that he would like to regain his West Indies spot,” Francis said.
“So he needs to come here and give a good account of himself to ensure he can find favour with the selectors.”
Leewards vice-captain Omari Banks said his side would not be intimated by other teams in the tournament and would be using the Champions League qualification as part of their motivation.
“We have three preliminary matches, then the semi-finals and the finals. That is a total of 40 overs per match,” the off-spinning all-rounder said.
“So when you look at it we have to play 200 overs of good, top quality cricket and we can make it to the Champions League. A trip to the Champions League with the Leeward Islands side would be superb for all of us.”
CANADA –Rizwan Cheema (captain), Harvir Baidwan, Trevin Bastiampillai, Geoff Barnett, Umar Bhatti, Hemnarine Chattergoon, Henry Osinde, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Calvert Hooper, Usman Limbada, Hiral Patel, Zubin Sukari, Hamza Tariq.
T&T – Daren Ganga (captain), Samuel Badree, Lendl Simmons, Sherwin Ganga, Adrian Barath, Dwayne Bravo, William Perkins, Darren Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Navin Stewart, Kieron Pollard, Dave Mohammed, Imran Khan, Denesh Ramdin.
JAMAICA – Tamar Lambert (captain), Nikita Miller, Danza Hyatt, Marlon Samuels, Xavier Marshall, Odean Brown, Brenton Parchment, Krishmar Santokie, Wavell Hinds, David Bernard, Andrew Richardson, Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Carlton Baugh.
LEEWARDS – Wilden Cornwall (captain), Omari Banks, Runako Morton, Jacques Taylor, Justin Athanaze, Kerry Mentore, Tonito Willett, Kelbert Walters, Shane Jeffers, Anthony Martin, Garvin Tonge, Lionel Baker, Kadeem Phillip, Javier Liburd.