Blockbuster CPL final showdown tonight

All to play for! The two captains, Guyana Amazon Warriors’ Chris Green (left) and Trinbago Knight Riders’ Dwayne Bravo pose with the 2018 HERO CPL Trophy.

The curtain will come down on the sixth annual HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with either the Guyana Amazon Warriors winning their maiden title or Trinbago Knight Riders recording their third title.

Either way, it is expected to be a blockbuster showdown in front of a sold out crowd at the Brian Lara Stadium tonight.

So far, Warriors leads the head-to-head charge, winning the recent two matches the teams have played while only losing once to Knight Riders in the tournament.

Young Guns! Sherfane Rutherford (left) and Shimron Hetmyer have stunned Trinbago Knight Riders twice, can they do it again?

At the final press conference ahead of the grand finale, Captain of the defending champions, Dwayne Bravo, pointed out that it was a great step for them to actually be able to defend their title in the final adding that regardless of the outcome, it was a win for them by finishing at the top of the table.

“It is going to be a tremendous atmosphere and we just have to enjoy the moment and the atmosphere and it is the first time for several players…We are the defending champions, we have the opportunity to defend it and I think it’s a great result for us despite the result of the game tomorrow finishing with the most points is a win for us,” Bravo said.

Meanwhile, Warriors leader, Chris Green, was quick to make the comparison between the two teams, pointing out that they have clashed numerous times and it is evident that both teams possess match winners and can win at any time.

“I think the reputation speaks for itself and I think we have a strong reputation as well when you look at more recently the stats, we won the last two contests so we are coming in confident as they are. We know we’ve got a tough fight on our hands, they have some experienced players who have been there before and performing. Similarly, we have some experienced players and players who have been performing and we have got some guys coming in with some red-hot form,” Green said.

Green added that it was not a destiny that they can control but once the team does its best, that’s what counts.

He, then, highlighted some of the young men who have stepped up so far.

“[Shimron] Hetmyer and [Sherfane] Rutherford have found tremendous form late. Hetmyer has been true class throughout the tournament especially with that century in Florida and I think Dwayne had said it showing our younger talent… I think Romario Shepherd has also been one showing his talent from ball one with both bat and ball. It’s really exciting to see these young guys coming through and taking the game in a fearless way,” Green said

The 24-year-old noted that It is a team game but that a couple of individual performances can win the game. “We had some really strong games playing against these guys three times so both teams know what to expect we know sort of a lot of each other now and that’s the beauty of it, we are going to play out in the best possible way,” he declared.

Knight Riders have been heavily dependent on Colin Munro with the bat. Munro is set to become the first batsman to score 500 runs in a single season of CPL with 499 runs (five half centuries) in 12 matches. Brendon McCullum and Darren Bravo have both supported Munro and form part of the solid Knight Riders’ batting order.

Similarly, Hetmyer has done the bulk of the batting for the Warriors.

He has the third highest aggregate and is only one of three batsmen to pass 400 runs this season.

Luke Ronchi and Chadwick Walton have not joined the party but are very capable of showing up on the grand stage and should either of them cut loose, Warriors will be hard to contain.

Jason Mohammed has scored his first 50 in the back end of the tournament after a long struggle to find form and should he come good today, especially in familiar territory, himself along with the explosive Rutherford form a solid middle order that can see Warriors utilizing the death overs well.

Both Hetmyer and Munro will be relied upon to play a crucial roles in their team’s batting order and both will be strong contenders for the player of the tournament award.

Trinbago’s Fawad Ahmed has been the surprise package with the ball, notching up 21 wickets and, along with Ali Khan with 15 wickets, have been the most devastating bowling duo in this year’s tournament.

On the other hand, the Warriors have struggled to find the right bowling combination, experimenting with the local spin bowlers.

Keemo Paul is still uncertain to play and the South American unit’s bowling department will once again rely on 39-year-old South African, Imran Tahir who has 16 wickets.

Sohail Tanvir has not fully shown the form of the past but has still chalked up a dozen wickets while the Warriors’ skipper has been impeccable during the powerplay overs.

Rayad Emrit, the former captain and Trinidadian will also be in the spotlight with both bat and ball being in familiar conditions. He is the third leading wicket taker for the Warriors.

The first ball is expected to bowl off from 17.00hrs.

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