Belligerent batting, bamboozling bowling, sheer pace and amazing athleticism. This is what fans can expect when two of the most successful teams in Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional Super 50 history come face-to-face today.
Today, the Guyana Jaguars will be hunting their fourth straight win and extend their undefeated streak while the Jamaica Scorpions seems not yet to have found their venom, registering only one win after three matches in the tournament.
The Jaguars will be looking to avenge their twin defeats last season while Scorpions will be confident as history favours them.
The Scorpions marched their way to the eventual runners up position at last year’s tournament.
This year they have started a bit off, losing their first two matches despite the presence of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.
On the other hand, the Jaguars have found match winners in youngsters, Keemo Paul and Shimron Hetmyer who are both equally up to the task of matching the powers of Russell and Gayle.
Scorpions are coming off their first win of the competition, against USA Cricket while Guyana snatched a pulsating victory against Leeward Hurricanes led by exceptional bowling from Paul.
Looking at the Scorpions’ line up, the big bashers in Chadwick Walton and Gayle, who did not play in the previous match for Scorpions but is likely to return in this match, will be hoping to find their groove once again and the Scorpions will be banking on these two to give them a good start early on.
The top order has struggled a bit for Guyana with Chandrapaul Hemraj and Shivnarine Chanderpaul not getting into their mojo. However, the veteran Chanderpaul would be reminiscent of his 101 from 96 deliveries last season against the same opposition and with a 50 under his belt so far in the tournament, he will look to stabilize the Jaguars innings.
Hetmyer and Leon Johnson have both carried the bulk of the batting for the Jaguars with Hetmyer scoring one of three hundreds in the competition so far and Johnson, with two half centuries to date, missing his maiden List A hundred after being run out on 99 in the previous match.
Meanwhile, Andre McCarthy has been the main contributor with the bat for the Scorpions with 130 runs. McCarthy has steadied the middle order and allowed the fire power in the lower order to come in and be destructive.
Brandon King and Steven Taylor have only appeared once in the Scorpions’ three matches but are proven big hitters who can add runs when needed.
Anthony Bramble continues his dream-run hammering away at a massive strike rate of 146. Handy lower down and capable with the gloves the Berbice born basher is expected to come to the party today if given the chance.
Andre Russell, who recently returned to competitive cricket after a one-year ban has already found himself back in the Jamaica set up and immediately making an impact. Only one of three players to score a half century for Scorpions, Russell has one of the highest strike rates in the team and joint top scorer with a handy 76 against Leeward Hurricanes.
Russell has also been handy with the ball, joint leading wicket taker for his side with four scalps to his name. There is no doubt that Russell is back with a bang and will be one to watch and if anyone can see Scorpions beating Jaguars, it’s Russell.
Raymon Reifer has been exceptional with both bat and ball for the Jaguars but with him off to West Indies A team duty that responsibility will fall on the shoulders of his replacement Christopher Barnwell, who has found some amount of form leading up to his call up.
Barnwell has scored two fifties and a century in his last three matches locally while taking eight wickets in the process and his all-round magic will be equally matched with the power of Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd and Paul who are all known to score quickly.
The three young men are also quick with the ball, combined with Barnwell will form a deadly pace attack complemented by the spin twins Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo who have led from the front with the ball. Clinton Pestano has only featured once so far and did not disappoint while Permaul and Paul have both taken seven wickets and Bishoo five scalps.
A lot will depend on Scorpions’ captain, Nikita Miller who, despite his experience, has only taken three wickets, one more than Gayle. Christopher Lamont is the joint leading wicket taker for the Scorpions with four wickets.
The Scorpions have tinkered with their line ups as all 14 players from the squad have featured in at least one match while the Jaguars are more settled with Ramaal Lewis, Richardo Adams and Barnwell yet to make their appearance in the tournament.
Both teams have had the largest turn outs at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua, and no surprise with their population featuring a lot of Guyanese and Jamaicans who both know how to party and equally love their cricket.
Both former champions, Jamaica have won the tournament eight times with the last being in 2011 while Guyana have been crowned champions nine times, last winning the tournament 13 years ago and only managing to finish runners up in 2015 since.
The match begins at 14:00h.
Guyana Jaguars squad: Leon Johnson (capt.), Shimron Hetmyer, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Anthony Bramble, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Ramaal Lewis, Clinton Pestano, Richardo Adams, Christopher Barnwell, Romario Shepherd, Devendra Bishoo, Veersammy Permaul
Jamaica Scorpions squad: Nikita Miller (Capt.), Andre McCarthy, Andre Russell, Chadwick Walton, Chris Gayle, Peat Salmon, Rovman Powell, Odean Smith, Fabian Allen, Steven Taylor, Christopher Lamont, Oshane Thomas, Gavin Wallace, Brandon King