(Trinidad Express) All eyes will be on the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force today as they start their Nagico Super50 campaign against the West Indies Under-19 at Shaw Park in Tobago.
Red Force coach Gus Logie said expectations will be high from the home fans again this year, with the Red Force fielding a strong squad which includes World Cup-bound players Sunil Narine and Darren Bravo as well as West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
Bravo and Pollard are not expected to feature in today’s match with T&T naming Marlon Richards and Derone Davis as replacements for the players who just took part in the West Indies’ Twenty20 series against South Africa. But Narine and Darren Bravo should be in action today after being out of competitive cricket for the past few months.
“The expectation is quite high from everybody,” said Logie. “Playing at home, we feel we have an extra advantage, but there are also high expectations and more pressure playing in front of your home crowd to manage.
“The addition of players like Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine gives us an edge, and we are looking to capitalise on this,” the T&T coach added.
“Mystery” spinner Narine, has not played since his bowling action came under scrutiny during last year’s Champions League T20. His adjusted action has not been tested in a match situation, since Narine also missed the Red Force’s practice matches leading up to the Super50 opener. But skipper Rayad Emrit said the spinner is raring to go today.
He is positive that T&T can get past the Under-19s but said his players will not underestimate any team.
“We are confident but not overconfident. We know some of the guys in the Under-19 team have played first-class cricket before, so we are a bit wary of them. We can’t take anyone for granted.
They might be underdogs but it is cricket and anything can happen,” said Emrit.
“We have been hampered by the weather in our final preparation but we did have two good practice games, and the guys like Ravi who did not bowl for a while got a little run and myself, I had a little injury so I am thankful I got a run in the middle,” the T&T skipper added.
He was also happy that his team’s batsmen were able to get some runs in the build-up to the tournament and noted that left-handed opening batsman Nicholas Sookdeosingh could make his regional debut today.
“The team is ready, we have no injuries and the guys have been getting runs in the practice matches and that has been our main issue. The batting seem to be getting used to the Oval wicket and it is a good sign for us and we hope we can carry that form into the tournament,” said Emrit.
Graeme West, the West Indies High Performance Centre head coach, and the man in charge of the WI Under-19s said the tournament will be used to assess the skill level of the players who were picked.
“This tournament will be the start point for our countdown to the next ICC Under-19 World Cup,” said West.
“We want to assess the players and identify their strengths, so that we can start to build the nucleus of the side that we want to send to the World Cup next year. To be successful, we will need to develop a core group of players that have played at the highest level that we can make available to them at this stage.”
T&T Red Force: Rayad Emrit (Captain ), Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Akeal Hosein, Steven Katwaroo, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Jeremy Solozano, Nicholas Sookdeosingh, Marlon Richards, Derone Davis.
WI U-19: Ramaal Lewis (Captain), Kacey Carty, Roland Cato, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Jaeel Clarke, Michael Frew, Shimron Hetmyer, Amir Jangoo, Alzarri Joseph, Nicholas Kirton, Kemo Paul, Akeel Seetal, Odean Smith, Shamar Springer.