Today the Guyana Amazon Warriors and defending Hero Caribbean Premier League (HCPL) T20 champs, Barbados Tridents will open the third season of the competition with a grudge match against Guyana’s Amazon Warriors, at the Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Last season’s final between the two sides resulted in a much talked about controversial Duckworth/Lewis match which saw the Tridents getting the better of the two-time finalists during their rain-hit final under lights.
Both teams have undergone slight changes and with the advantage resting with the defending champs, the Warriors will definitely need to win this first match away from home to ensure that no pressure is added to their team, especially after not getting in much practice during their rain-affected camp in Guyana.
Stabroek Sports takes a look at some of the key players for today’s opening encounter.
Batting and Bowling
Players in the spotlight
Lendl Simmons – the right-handed Trinidad opener is the team’s and the tournament’s leading run-scorer, amassing some 446 runs over the two-year period. The attacking opener has also come off of some good performances in the 2015 Indian Premier League where he smoked six 50s including a match-winning knock in the tournament finale and will be called upon to repeat similar performances this season.
Tilakaratne Dilshan – the-38 year-old Sri Lanka opener is one of the most aggressive and stylish players in the entire competition and at one point was touted as the best T20 player in the world. The right-hander will be the likely partner of Simmons and with each having huge success in the shorter formats of the game, it will be interesting to see how they team up.
Brad Hodge– the Australian is considered a T20 nomad and specialist and while he is currently the leading run-scorer in all of T20 cricket, the 40-year-old former Test and ODI batsman has more than 6,000 career runs and will seek to make this year’s competition a success for his team and himself.
Barnwell was in top form last season while Akmal is a stylish dasher and the veteran Chanderpaul and the compact Fudadin make for good cornerstones in the side.
Captain Ramdin too plays a crucial part with both bat and gloves and it will be another interesting move to see how he fits his players into their positions.
Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Sunil Narine – despite recurring sessions to improve his suspect bowling action, Narine is still regarded as the most effective and miserly T20 bowler in world cricket and has been a trump card for the Warriors over the past two season.
Bishoo and Permaul are known to work well in tandem and with both players having a successful regional season at home, earning West Indies recalls, the Warriors will want them to quickly revert to the more aggressive bowling approach required for the 20/20 format.
Ronsford Beaton- the speedster was highly rated by Coach Carl Hooper during the Warriors training session at home for his pace and accuracy. While last season the young right-hander had a mixed tourney, he recently explained to this newspaper that he was indeed more equipped for the stage this season.
Batting and Bowling
Players in the spotlight
Ravi Rampaul- the discarded West Indies pacer has certainly made use of his time away from the international scene by becoming a key new-ball bowler in the IPL for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and in the CPL for the Tridents where he is the leading wicket-taker with 18 scalps.
Dwayne Smith – with 20 tournament sixes and the second highest score of 110 not out in the entire competition under his belt, the West Indies opener has already signaled warnings to the other teams this season. With more than 5,000 in this format, Smith will be a worry for the Warriors up front once he finds his range.
Jason Holder – the West Indies ODI skipper has blossomed into a fine all-rounder in recent times. His pace and bounce is ideal for the home track while his power-hitting upfront or at the back-end of the innings surely makes him a key member in the side.
Shoaib Malik- the 33-year-old Pakistan middle-order batsman has been an important figure for the Tridents over the past few season, making him the second leading run-scorer in the competition. His recall to the Pakistan ODI team was marked by a blistering century and Malik himself will want to continue his good all-round work for the champs starting today.
Kieron Pollard- the Mumbai Indians star all-rounder and Tridents Captain will again look to take his team to the pinnacle of CPL cricket and because his form in 20/20 has improved tremendously thanks to some good work in the recent IPL which was won by his team, the 28-year-old Trinidadian will again be expected to do big things this season.
Ashely Nurse, Robin Peterson- the Bajan and the South African spinners are expected to do the bulk of the spinners job while both players are known to handle the bat competently If required. Pollard will want his two key spinners to pick up wickets and be greedy at the same time.
Johnathan Carter, Rayad Emrit, Shai Hope- apart from Emrit, both Carter and Hope have played cricket at the highest levels but Emrit is a master at the T20 version and has proven that over the years in both departments.
Nevertheless all three men will be looked upon to perform in their respective areas once given a chance.
With four games at home, the Tridents will be keen on getting off to a winning start while Ramdin’s men will want to erase the blemish left by last year’s final and get out of the blocks early while still on enemy soil.
The match begins at 18:00hrs me.