Thursday 20 February, 2020

Scorpions search for first win as West Indies Championships continues

Jamaica Scorpions will go in search of their first victory of the 2020 West Indies Championships when the third round bowls off on Thursday.

Fifth-place Scorpions, a side that has made an art of escapes so far this season, and third-place Barbados Pride, buoyed by the end of their drought of wins against five-time defending champions Guyana Jaguars, will face off at Sabina Park in Kingston.

After stumbling in the first round, victory over their long-standing rivals Jaguars meant a great deal to the Pride. It was their first win over the Jags in five years and against the same opponents on home soil for six years.

Scorpions also have reason to feel buoyant. Twice this season, their batting collapsed in the first innings and were forced to follow on. Twice, they rebounded with strong batting performances in the second innings to earn hard-fought draws.

There was a time whenever these two sides met, the battle was heated. In the Professional Cricket League (PCL), however, Pride have dominated in the face of a period of transition and unavailability of senior players for Scorpions.

Pride have won six and lost none of the 10 matches the two teams have played, but they have only won once – last season – and by two wickets – in five matches at Sabina Park, so this contest could prove decisive at this stage of the championship.

For Pride, the match could either continue their revival following their misstep in the first round and for Scorpions, it could be the trigger for a turnaround in their fortunes.

Bowling also appears to be the strength of the two teams in this match, so it will be important for them to bat purposefully. Pride will want to emphasise the shaky display in the first round was an aberration, and Scorpions will want to end the sequence of having to come-from-behind to save their skins.

While Pride remain unchanged, Scorpions have been given a boost with the return of Rovman Powell from injury and Brandon King from duties with West Indies in the recent series against Ireland.

SQUADS:

SCORPIONS: John Campbell (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Paul Palmer Jr, Nicholson Gordon, Derval Green, Patrick Harty Jr, Brandon King, Jamie Merchant, Marquino Mindley, Rovman Powell, Denis Smith, Oraine Williams
IN–King, Powell; OUT–Assad Fudadin, Aldaine Thomas

PRIDE (Unchanged): Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain), Shamarh Brooks, Jonathan Carter, Shane Dowrich, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Kyle Mayers, Shayne Moseley, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Kevin Stoute, Jomel Warrican

Jaguars vs Red Force in Providence, Guyana

With contrasting results in the previous round propelling Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to the top of the championship ladder and plunging Guyana Jaguars three places down, this contest at the Guyana National Stadium highlights the rivalries between teams in the top half of the standings and teams in the bottom half in this round of matches.

The Red Force continued their strong start to the season when they crushed Leeward Islands Hurricanes by an innings and 168 runs on home soil. But the Jaguars stumbled when their batting failed to fire and they were beaten by the Barbados Pride on the road.

For both teams in this contest, the scenery changes for the first time this season. It will be the Jags’ first match on home soil, where they are most comfortable, and the Red Force’s first on the road, which will add some intrigue.

The Guyana National Stadium has been a fortress for the Jaguars during their five successive championship runs. They have lost just three matches at this venue during that period and have beaten Red Force in their last four matches there.

Also, the Jags have won eight of the 10 matches between the two sides in the PCL era of the championship, but Red Force claimed an unexpected 93-run victory last season, albeit on home soil.

The main storyline for this contest will be, therefore, to see if Jaguars can get their groove back on home soil and their loss last weekend was just a blip and if Red Force can penetrate the home team’s defence and continue their early success this season.

Bowling appears to be the strength in both teams, but the batting will decide the outcome – and Red Force appear to have the edge so far this season, batting once and piling up a couple of big totals in their two previous matches.

SQUADS:

JAGUARS: Leon Johnson (Captain), Christopher Barnwell, Devendra Bishoo, Anthony Bramble, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Tevin Imlach, Keon Joseph, Ronaldo Alimohamed, Veerasammy Permaul, Kevin Sinclair, Vishaul Singh, Nial Smith

IN-Alimohamed; OUT–Raymon Reifer

RED FORCE (Unchanged): Dar­ren Bra­vo (Captain), Yan­nic Cari­ah, Bryan Charles, Joshua da Sil­va, Ter­rance Hinds, Akeal Ho­sein, Kissoondath Magram, Jason Mohammed, Uth­man Muhammed, Yannick Ottley, Kea­gan Sim­mons, Odean Smith, Je­re­my Solozano

Volcanoes vs Hurricanes in Gros-Islet, St Lucia

The return to action for West Indies off-spin bowling all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall will be a major highlight in this round of matches and could prove vital for bottom-place Leeward Islands Hurricanes.

They face second-place Windward Islands Volcanoes on the road in the all-Islands rivalry, which will be played under the lights at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Cornwall had been sidelined for the first two matches of the Championship to recover from knee surgery. His presence will be a great boost to a Windward Islands Hurricanes side that has suffered defeat in its first two matches.

Cornwall has been a very effective bowler for Hurricanes in the championship since his debut in the first season of the PCL era. In 41 matches, he has taken 197 wickets – at 23.73 apiece – and needs three more to become the second Hurricanes bowler to take 200 wickets.

He is likely to form a lethal spin bowling combination with Damion Jacobs, who is also chasing the 200-wicket mark.

The Jamaican leg-spinner has taken 191 championship wickets and needs nine more to hit the mark. His haul includes 163 scalps at 22.51 apiece in 39 matches for his native Scorpions before he was picked up by the Hurricanes in the PCL Draft last season.

This spin bowling duo alongside West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph and fellow pacer Sheeno Berridge gives the Hurricanes bowling an edge, and could put pressure on the Volcanoes batting if the conditions are right.

But the Hurricanes will require their batting to be more consistent and sure-footed if they are to slow down the Volcanoes.

The hosts will be upbeat about their place in the table and will want to build on their current position, though they failed to clinch a win in the previous round against the Scorpions.

Though experienced opener Devon Smith has not yet fired this season, Volcanoes have been able to put decent totals on the board thanks to players such as Kavem Hodge, Emmanuel Stewart and Desron Maloney, and the bowlers have backed up their efforts – and they will want this trend to continue.

This could be a topsy-turvy contest. The Volcanoes had five wins out of six matches in the first three seasons of the PCL era, but the Hurricanes started to buck the trend in the last two seasons, culminating with a sweep of the matches last season.

SQUADS:

VOLCANOES (Unchanged): Sunil Ambris (Captain), Kavem Hodge, Alick Athanaze, Keron Cottoy, Kirk Edwards, Ray Jordan, Shermon Lewis, Desron Maloney, Preston McSween, Devon Smith, Shane Shillingford, Emmanuel Stewart, Josh Thomas

HURRICANES: Jahmar Hamilton (Captain), Colin Archibald, Sheeno Berridge, Quinton Boatswain, Keacy Carty, Rahkeem Cornwall, Montcin Hodge, Damion Jacobs, Amir Jangoo, Alzarri Joseph, Jaison Peters, Kieran Powell, Devon Thomas

IN–Cornwall; OUT–Jacques Taylor

POINTS STANDINGS AFTER TWO ROUNDS

1. Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (29.6)
2. Windward Islands Volcanoes (29.4)
3. Barbados Pride (25.6)
4. Guyana Jaguars (24.8)
5. Jamaica Scorpions (14.8)
6. Leeward Islands Hurricanes (4.2)

 

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