Battle looms as Amazon Warriors, Tridents square off in final
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) — Guyana Amazon Warriors will try to compensate for last year's heartbreak when they clash with a buoyant Barbados Tridents in the final of the Caribbean Premier League here today.
The two teams took contrasting paths to the final - Amazon Warriors battling through the play-offs and Tridents booking a direct spot - but this will account for little when they pit their strengths against each other in the 4:00 pm contest at Warner Park here.
Amazon Warriors, in particular, will be highly motivated, especially against the backdrop of their loss in the final of the inaugural tournament to Jamaica Tallawahs.
They have already remedied this in part by beating Tallawahs in Thursday's second play-off but a win in the final will put the finishing touches on an impressive campaign.
Amazon Warriors coach Roger Harper is mindful of not repeating the same mistakes of last year, which saw them falter in Port of Spain.
"This time around we will be looking to produce our best cricket when it counts," he stressed.
"We will not necessarily be looking to do anything different to what we have done previously in the tournament, but we will think about the Barbados Tridents today (Friday) and fine-tune our plans so we are ready for tomorrow."
Amazon Warriors finished second on 12 points with a 6-3 record that was shared by the top four finishers. Tridents, however, topped the standings courtesy of a superior net run rate and booked their spot in the final.
After watching Tallawahs beat Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel by four wickets on Wednesday, Amazon Warriors promptly greeted them in the second play-off with a resounding 10-wicket defeat - the first ever in CPL history.
The performance sent a stern warning to Tridents but their skipper Kieron Pollard said his side has not fazed.
"The Warriors played very well last night, but I am not worried," said Pollard.
"We will do our preparation and get ourselves ready for playing them, but we are going to concentrate on our strengths rather than worry too much about theirs."
Amazon Warriors may do well to be reminded of the Tridents' last outing, when they crushed Tallawahs here by 88 runs, in the final preliminary game.
When the two teams met during the Barbados leg of the tournament, Amazon Warriors came away with a narrow seven-run victory and Pollard is aware his side can leave nothing to chance.
"They beat us at home a few weeks ago, so we know we will have to bring our 'A-Game' on Saturday to win," he said.
"They do have dangerous bowlers in the form of (Sunil) Narine and (Krishmar) Santokie, however, when the bad ball comes, we will look to capitalise on it and it should be an exciting match."
Both teams are packed with match winners. Amazon Warriors boast opener Lendl Simmons whose 426 runs at an average of 53 have been the most in the tournament. His opening partner, New Zealander Martin Guptill has scored 351 runs, and together they have formed a formidable partnership at the top of the order.
Santokie has taken 14 wickets with his superb variations with the new ball and while Narine has picked up just seven wickets, he has conceded under four-and-a-half runs an over.
Tridents have opener Dwayne Smith who has struck two centuries en route to gathering 294 runs, while Shoaib Malik's 351 runs have been invaluable. Pollard has not quite fired, with just 200 runs from nine innings but as proven in the final preliminary game with a whirlwind 63 that he can win any game on his day.
Seamer Ravi Rampaul's 18 wickets have been the most in the competition and fellow pacer Rayad Emrit has taken 11 scalps in support. Both will be key to the Tridents' attack.
Head coach Robin Singh said Tridents were prepared, especially after the long rest which came after they avoided the play-offs.
"Preparations have been good this week and we have welcomed the break after playing so many games in quick succession at the end of the group stages," said Singh.
"We have some players who have done really well throughout the tournament such as Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard, but we will be looking to prepare all of our players to be their best in the final."
The CPL bowled off on July 11 and featured 27 matches, with the top team qualifying for the final and the remaining three in the standings qualifying for the play-offs.