Windies 'A' confident Sabina Park will bring good fortune

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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West Indies 'A' Captain Kieran Powell is hopeful that the familiarity with Sabina Park ground will work in his team's favour when they take on England Lions in the second four-day “Test” starting today.

West Indies A won the first unofficial Test at Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium last week by two wickets and are seeking an unassailable two-nil lead in the three-match series.

Noting that regional players have had little opportunity to play first-class cricket in Trelawny, the skipper said his players will be more at home in the Jamaica capital.

“Kingston is a place [where] we play way more cricket, so everyone in the team is probably a bit more used to conditions in Kingston to play first-class cricket,” Powell said after the victory over the Lions, which saw spinners dominate on a dry batting strip.

Sabina Park has, in recent years, also been favourable to spin, though it will likely also aid the faster bowlers with more bounce and sideways movement.

Powell insisted the hosts will keep their feet on the accelerator with the aim of securing the series win ahead of the final match in Antigua, which is set to start February 26.

“It's a position that we've shown West Indies cricket is competitive, but it's also a position where we can't get complacent and think we're one-nil up and relax... we have to put this series to bed and then take it to Antigua with the Cup already in our hands,” the 27-year-old opener told reporters.

In the win, wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich stroked the only hundred of the match, and Jomel Warrican an unbeaten half-century to help the West Indies A to 279 in their first innings.

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall grabbed five wickets in the Lions' first-innings score of 252, and slow left-arm orthodox bowler Warrican claimed seven wickets in the Englishmen's seconds innings 132. Powell top-scored with 30 as the home team lost eight wickets in chasing 106 for victory.

Powell believes the West Indies 'A' batsmen are due to hit form.

“We're in the West Indies, we're in our conditions. And if you look at the match our batters haven't got off as yet, so that [augurs] well for the team — apart from Dowrich and Warrican. If our batters get off and really put the type of score that we know we are capable of, and on these pitches, with the spinners that we have we'll be asking a lot of England,” he reasoned.

Battling knocks from Paul Coughlin (60), Nick Gubbins (50) and Captain Keaton Jennings (49) were the bedrock of the tourists first-innings score. In the second innings they wilted against Warrican, but opener Haseeb Hameed looked good for 39 in trying conditions.

But the highlight for them was the bowling of left-arm finger spinner Jack Leach, who snared eight wickets in the match.

He is confident his team can level matters in Kingston.

“We go there with full belief that we can obviously square the series, and take it to Antigua. We'll will working hard in the nets to put that [batting frailties] right, and come up with a plan against the spinners,” Leach told reporters.

The Lions Head Coach Andy Flower expects a bouncier pitch at Sabina Park, similar to the one in a recent three-day warm-up game there in which his team drew with a Jamaica XI.

“We played our practice game there and there's more bounce in the pitch,” Flower said.

The only change to either squad is the inclusion of former West Indies Under-19 all-rounder Keemo Paul for Test fast bowler Miguel Cummins.

Squads: West Indies A — Kieran Powell (captain), Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Jahmar Hamilton, Keemo Paul, Keon Joseph, Jeremiah Louis, Raymon Reifer, Vishal Singh, Jomel Warrican, Damion Jacobs.

England Lions — Keaton Jennings (captain), Nick Gubbins, Saqib Mahmood, Toby Roland-Jones, Jack Leach, Dominic Bess, Mason Crane, James Porter, Ben Foakes, Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone, Dan Lawrence, Alex Davies, Paul Coughlin, Richard Gleeson, Haseeb Hameed.




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