Tallawahs, Warriors in super clash at Sabina Park
As the battle intensifies for an automatic place in the final of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL), defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs and fierce rivals Guyana Amazon Warriors clash in a mouthwatering contest at Sabina Park set to begin at 11:00 am today.
The Tallawahs, captain by Christopher Gayle, are in second place with eight points from five matches. The Denesh Ramdin-led Amazon Warriors, who have played a game more, are also on eight points, but trail the Tallawahs due to an inferior net run-rate.
The Amazon Warriors defeated the Tallawahs in home and away encounters in the 2013 CPL, but came up short against the Jamaica franchise in the grand final between the two.
In their lone clash this year, the Tallawahs were narrow victors.
The Warriors will be sweating over the fitness of champion finger spinner Sunil Narine, who has missed a couple of games due to a side strain.
Ramdin told the Jamaica Observer that Narine, widely regarded as the world's most effective Twenty20 (T20) slow bowler, will have to pass a fitness test before game time.
"He has to do a fitness test. If he passes he'll be in, but if not, we'll have to work with what we have and try to back ourselves. There's the opportunity for other guys to step up," the wicketkeeper/batsman said yesterday.
Even without Narine, the Amazon possess a potent bowling attack which includes left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie, pacer Ronsford Beaton, off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez and slow left-arm orthodox bowler Veerasammy Permaul.
In the batting department, the Warriors' opener Lendl Simmons, Ramdin and Guptill have been the major contributors.
The threat of their slow bowling has left Jamaica Tallawahs coach Mickey Arthur hoping for a more pace bowler-friendly strip than the one used in Thursday's win over Antigua Hawksbills.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Arthur said he would prefer a grass-top wicket.
"Did you see that wicket next door with the grass on? That's the one we want to play on," he told reporters.
"We are not going to give Narine and Hafeez too much opportunity to grip it like we saw today [Thursday]. They are a very good bowling unit and that chap Permaul is very good as well, so they have the complete bowling attack for a wicket like that. We are going to try to make it suit our needs; they call it home advantage."
The Tallawahs batting consists of one of T20 cricket's most feared batsmen, the left-handed Gayle, as well as Adam Voges and Andre Russell.
Their bowling, which has arguably been their stronger point so far this season, is led by pacers Russell and Jerome Taylor, as well as the left-arm spinning pair of Nikita Miller and Daniel Vettori.