CPL 2021: Take two – Indifferent Amazon Warriors battle resurgent TKR
By Akeem Greene
In normal circumstances, these rivals, Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinbago Knight Riders, would have not met again so soon in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), but a crammed schedule due to the pandemic means Warner Park will host what is expected to be another keenly contested fixture on Wednesday from 10:00h.
Unlike the tournament’s opener which had fans for these two iconic teams, this fixture will be played behind closed doors, however, with the tournament entering its midway stage, players on both sides will not want to take anything off of the gas.
So, let’s recap what occurred on August 26: Warriors were inserted and posted 142-7 led by a top score of 54 from Shimron Hetmyer as spinners; Akeal Hosein and Sunil Narine both took 2-17. Warriors then strangled TKR’s batting as Romario Shepherd led the way with 3-15 and miserly returns from Imran Tahir and Odean Smith led to the nine-run victory.
Shepherd has not played since due to injury but captain Nicholas Pooran stated on Monday that he is expected to make a return for this match. Left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd also missed the third match due to a slight niggle. Keep in mind, the Warriors were reduced to a 15-man from a maximum of 17 even before the tournament started.
It is now the second dance between the two sides and while the defending champions -TKR – looked rather rusty in the first match, they were a well-oiled unit against St. Lucia Kings on Tuesday, who they thumped by 27 runs, and moved into second place.
Warriors, on the other hand, entered with back-to-back losses against high-flyers St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots and Pooran mentioned they are still searching for their best playing XI.
With the opening combination having an indifferent output, Mohammad Hafeez punched in 70 off 59 balls on his promotion to the top and shared a 101-run partnership for the second wicket with Hetmyer who made a 35-ball 52 (3x4s;2x6s).
Brandon King, who after a chart-topping season in 2019, racking up 296 runs at 55.11, only made 116 at 11.60 in 2020, and this season is averaging 13.00.
He would desperately want a return to form while Chandrapaul Hemraj who has made 66 runs in his three innings, will want to convert those starts into substantial scores.
The experienced Shoaib Malik has had two innings and just made seven runs but Pooran, who was questioned on the form of his batters, said he was not too worried about the form of the batsmen and backed them to step and perform.
It is a new pitch, and Tuesday morning, the surface looked to have good bounce and turn; the latter would leave the Warriors licking their lips due to the heavy dietary of spin at hand, but TKR still has Pakistani leg-spinner, Yasir Shah, to unleash.
Kevin Sinclair is a tempting option to play his first match of the season, probably in place of pacer Nial Smith who has found it a tough going to date.
In two matches, the promising pacer has gone at an economy rate of 13.75 in his four wicketless overs while Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul- Haq has gone at 10.27 but has three wickets and is a key man at the ‘death’.
New Zealander Tom Seifert along with Kieron Pollard has been the power-pack combination for TKR, with both scoring over 100 runs in four innings and have strike rates of 121.05 and 142.85 respectively.
Just like their unbeaten 2020 season, TKR’s bowling unit has had a collective impact, led by pacers Ravi Rampaul (nine wickets) and Isuru Udana (eight wickets) while Hosein has five and Narine four.
While Pooran stated at Monday’s press conference that the team is still in a good position due to the tournament still in its early days and most teams still are tied on two points, a third successive loss would be unwanted.
Guyana Amazon Warriors: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Shoaib Malik, Imran Tahir, Shimron Hetmyer (vice-captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Brandon King, Naveen-ul-Haq, Romario Shepherd, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Odean Smith, Nial Smith, Gudakesh Motie, Anthony Bramble, Kevin Sinclair, Ashmead Nedd.
Trinbago Knight Riders: Kieron Pollard (captain), Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine (vice-captain), Colin Munro, Yasir Shah, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Isuru Udana, Tim Seifert, Anderson Phillip, Denesh Ramdin, Tion Webster, Akeal Hosein, Jayden Seales, Leonardo Julien, Ali Khan.