ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Weakened title-holders Barbados Pride will take a giant step towards the defence of their Regional Super50 title when they take on English county Kent in the first semi-final under lights here today.
Flaunting an array of West Indies stars in the early stages of the tournament, Pride barreled their way through the preliminary round, eventually topping Group A in Bridgetown with 27 points.
They opened with a four-game winning streak before losing some of their momentum towards the end of the group stage with two defeats in their last four matches.
With the likes of Test and one-day captain Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse and Kemar Roach all having left for West Indies duty, however, Pride face the challenge of coping with the pressure and demands of a crucial semi-final.
The classy Hope was one of the side’s main source of runs in the preliminaries, garnering 301 runs while seamer Roach accounted for 11 wickets and off-spinner Nurse, 10, while Holder picked up eight wickets with his right-arm pace in four outings.
Pride still boast the likes of captain Kraigg Brathwaite, fellow Test batsman, Roston Chase, and out-of-favour Windies one-day left-hander Jonathan Carter but the inexperienced likes of Chemar Holder, Joshua Bishop and wicketkeeper Tevyn Walcott will all find themselves under heavy scrutiny.
Chase has been Pride’s leading batsman with 433 runs and much of the responsibility for a decent total – or a successful fun chase – will fall squarely on his shoulders.
Kent, meanwhile, ended second on 25 points in Group B staged here, behind Guyana Jaguars, but will look to shock the heavily favoured Pride.
They opened their capaign with a defeat to Jamaica Scorpions but then went on a four-match winning streak to put themselves in contention for a spot in the final four.
Opener Daniel Bell-Drummond, whose parents are Jamaican, has been their leading run-scorer with 287 runs while Zak Crawley has gathered 262.
Sean Dickson has been the only other player to reach 200 runs as Kent’s batting has struggled to put up challenging totals.
In similar vein, their bowling has been steady without being spectacular. Seamers Ivan Thomas and Will Gidman have taken 21 wickets among them while Joe Denly has snared 10 with his leg-spin.
While Pride closed out their preliminary round with a defeat to Combined Campuses and Colleges Marooners at Kensington Oval, Kent beat Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Coolidge Cricket Ground to end on a high note.
They will also have the advantage of being already acclimatised to the Coolidge pitch, having played there twice during the group phase.
The match bowls off at 2 pm.
PRIDE – Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Joshua Bishop, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Dominic Drakes, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Aaron Jones, Omar Phillips, Shamar Springer, Kevin Stoute, Tevyn Walcott, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kenroy Williams.
KENT – Joe Denly (captain), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Sean Dickson, Alex Blake, Will Gidman, Adam Rouse, Calum Haggett, James Tredwell, Adam Riley, Imran Qayyum, Mitch Claydon, Ivan Thomas.