CPL: Malik says “no pressure” as Warriors commence hunt for elusive title

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By Akeem Greene

Five years of consistent cricket. Five years with an empty trophy cabinet.

That has been the story of the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Hero Caribbean Premier League.

Three occasions to the final, yet the final hurdle proved the toughest.

Shoaib Malik is the fifth captain of the franchise, and in 2018, he faces a similar challenge his predecessors encountered. However, the Pakistani feels no pressure to conquer where others faltered.

At a press briefing at the Guyana Marriot Hotel on the eve of Thursday’s opener with St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Malik was cool and calm ahead of the battles that await.

“Honestly speaking, no pressure at all. The same thing I would expect from our players as well that there is no pressure. Obviously you want to start well and that gives you an extra edge if you go deep in the tournament, but there is no pressure at all. Just go out, give your best shot and enjoy the game,” the all-rounder confidently stated.

This year, the organisers have increased the overseas-players quota from four to five in the starting XI, which means Warriors will most likely be fielding all of their international recruits on Thursday.

For Malik, it is a benefit not just for Guyana, but all the teams. However, he pointed out the Guyanese duo, Sherfane Rutherford and Shimron Hetmyer, as players he is banking on to deliver big.

“Overseas cricketers bring a lot of experience with them and it is good for West Indies cricket to have these guys share their experience with the local guys,” he stated.

“Even in our team I must point out these two guys who are very talented cricketers, [Shirmron] Hetmyer and [Sherfane] Rutherford. I have very high expectations from them. The way I have seen them in practice games, I think they are very confident guys and it is something different the management have decided to play five overseas, let’s see how it goes.”

Calm before the storm! Guyana Amazon Warriors captain Shoaib Malik and St. Kitts Patriots Carlos Brathwaite shake hands before the battle ensues tomorrow at Providence

For St. Kitts Patriots’ all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, he does not feel the 2017 runners-up are over-reliant on the batting powers of Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis.

However, the stats tell a different story with the pair scoring 370 plus runs each in 2017 and the next best being 151 from Brathwaite.

“If they bat for the first 13 overs, there is not much the line-up can do after that so hopefully they replicate the season from last year and we go one better, but if they don’t replicate we have players who can fill the void,” Brathwaite reasoned.

In the six years of the league, the Windies all-rounder has never played at Providence, but explained Patriots can combat the Warriors once they acclimatise quickly to conditions.

“Traditionally, the wickets have been a bit slow and tempted to turn and that suits their style of play and for us we have some spinners who can do well, but at the end of the day it is who plays best and hopefully we can come out victorious,” he said.

Thursday’s match is slated to commence at 18:00h and will be followed by a clash against St. Lucia Stars on Saturday from 16:00h and Barbados Tridents on Sunday from 18:00h.

According to the organisers, Guyanese can view Thursday’s match on television. It will be delayed by an hour.

Guyana Amazon Warriors squad: Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanveer, Chadwick Walton, Chris Green, Rayad Emrit, Imran Tahir, Jason Mohammed, Luke Ronchi, Veerasammy Permaul, Roshon Primus, Shimron Hetmyer, Devendra Bishoo, Gajanand Singh, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Keemo Paul, Saurabh Netravalkar and Akshaya Persaud.

St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots squad: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Ben Cutting, Carlos Brathwaite, Mahmudullah, Anton Devcich, Tom Cooper, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King, Devon Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Fabian Allen, Sandeep Lamichhane, Shamarh Brooks, Jeremiah Louis, Alzarri Joseph, Ibrahim Khaleel and Glen Javelle.

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