Windwards closest but five teams eye title

CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – Five of the six teams participating in this year’s TCL Group West Indies Under-19 Challenge can still capture the title but Windward Islands will start the fifth and final round in pole position when it bowls off here today.

They currently sit at the top of the table on 27 points and will clash up with Leeward Islands who lie rock bottom on six points and have no chance of winning the coveted championship.

The clash is scheduled for the Beausejour Cricket Ground and the Windwards will be highly fancied after playing some consistent cricket so far and picking up first innings points against defending champion Jamaica in the rain affected fourth round that ended here Thursday.

“The momentum is with us right now but we will not be complacent against the Leewards. There are other teams that can overhaul our points tally and win. We will be trying hard to gain maximum points,” Windwards manager Shawn Edward told CMC Sports.

“We need to win to be sure. We will not underestimate the Leewards and will be going out there to play positive cricket. We have always done well against the Leewards and we have confidence and form going within us.”

Jamaica, on 24 points and Barbados on 21, are two of the teams which can still win the championship.

Jamaica’s coach Robert Samuels said he was expected his side to pull out all stops in the final round.

“We have not played our best game yet. Hopefully it will come against the Barbadians. I am looking forward to this fifth round which should be a very interesting round,” Samuels said.

“Like many other teams we are still in with a chance and we will be looking to see how well we can stick to our game plan.

“I thought the Windwards did pretty well to stick to their game plan in the last round, they stuck to it and bowled very consistently when we thought we would have had our best day.”

The Barbadians will be pleased to move away from the Dennery Playing Field where they lost the entire second day of the fourth round and 196 overs overall, to rain.

On the final day, only 40 minutes play was possible before lunch and rain again at 3:20 ended Barbados’ hopes of first innings points against Guyana.

“It was certainly a setback for us losing so much time in that match when we were aiming for an outright win to put us up there with the leaders,” Coppin lamented.

“It was disappointing losing so much playing time. We are looking forward to three days of good weather in the final round.”

As far as personnel are concerned, Coppin said they would be at full strength in the final round despite an injury to one of their players.

“Shane Parris went back home with an injury but we already have a replacement here in Kevin Earle, a slow left arm orthodox bowler from the Combined Schools team,” he noted.

“I am pleased to see our batting starting to click and we have been bowling out teams.”

The other game of the series features Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana clashing at Dennery.

The Guyanese, who were leaders after the first two rounds, can still pull off the title if they beat the Trinidadians who are also in with a chance of winning the title if they get full points in the match and the Windwards falter badly against the Leewards.

But T&T manager Roland Sampath is counting on his big name West Indies Under-19 players to fire.

“Our middle order is not playing as well as we expected. I hope they will come good in the last game. Our top players Yannic Carriah, Yannick Ottley and Evin Lewis have not stepped up,” Sampath complained.

“After good starts to our innings we have not been able to capitalise. We knew the weather would have played a part so we have no excuse, that’s God’s work.”

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