The exciting Limacol Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 Tournament has reached the business end of its first season.
Tomorrow the first semi-final between the Guyana Amazon Warriors and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel comes off at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago, while on Friday, the slumping Barbados Tridents play the Jamaica Tallawahs at the same location. The final will be staged on Saturday, also at the Queen’s Park Oval. All games are night affairs.
The Tallawahs, with captain Chris Gayle and all-rounder Andre Russell, showing timely form in recent games, have been strengthened by the considerable talents of Sri Lankan batting maestro Kumar Sangakkara.
Gayle has expressed his delight that the Sri Lankan will be joining spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan in his side for the conclusion of the competition.
“Having a player like Sangakkara join the team is a welcome boost,” Gayle said.
“Everyone knows what he is capable of, the damage he can do if you allow him to play his game.
“So, yes, we are extremely happy to have him joining us and we look forward to him settling in, helping us reach the final and hopefully winning the tournament.”
Trinidad and Tobago have also been considerably boosted for tomorrow’s game by the inclusion of another batting legend in Sangakkara’s countryman Mahela Jayawardena. The welcomed Sri Lankan invasion is continued in the Amazon’s line-up with the arrival of Tillakaratne Dilshan, a situation which has delighted the Amazon Warriors’ coach Roger Harper.
“While it is sad to lose a player of Martin Guptill’s ability at this stage of the tournament, we are delighted to have secured a top-quality replacement in Tillakaratne Dilshan. He offers so much to any side he plays for, as an attacking batsman, a useful bowler and also someone who is outstanding in the field. We look forward to him linking up with us ahead of Thursday’s semi-final, and his big-match experience will be a great asset to us,” he said,
The Barbados Tridents line-up has also been enhanced by the presence of Pakistani Twenty20 specialist Azhar Mahmood who should boost both the batting and bowling of the Tridents. He has replaced his countryman Umar Akmal who has not prospered with the bat during the competition.
The Tridents started the tournament with four victories but then followed those with three straight defeats.
The batting of the four semi-finalists have been below par generally with pitches often not conducive to stroke-play. It is hoped that the semi-finals and final will see better tracks prepared as the competition comes to its climax.
Pakistani all-rounder Shoalb Malik has been the Barbados Tridents leading batsman with 223 runs at 31.85 and much will be expected of him on Friday. Malik has the opportunity to become the leading batsman in the tournament as Andre Fletcher, the leading scorer, and his St. Lucia Zouks, are out of the tournament.
Lendl Simmons of the Guyana Amazon Warriors also has the chance to become the top batsman. The hard-hitting Trinidadian has accumulated 218 runs in 7 matches at 36.33.
Kishmar Santokie also of the Guyana Amazon Warriors has taken the most wickets in the tournament so far. The left-arm medium pacer has got the better of 14 batsmen and tomorrow will be seeking to improve on that tally.
Though Shakib Al Hasan of the Barbados Tridents has been abysmal with the bat he has dismissed 11 batsmen, and along with off-spinner Ashley Nurse and Rayad Emrit who both have 10 wickets, has been the Tridents most potent bowling weapon
With good weather forecast for the weekend, the next three days promise to provide a fitting climax to a tournament that has captured the imagination of regional fans, and hopefully, the world.