Jaguars, Red Force lock horns today in clash of the titans
By Brandon Corlette
With both the Guyana Jaguars and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force being unbeaten in this ongoing CG Insurance Regional Super50 Cup, their match today (Saturday February 20) is set to be a clash of the heavyweights, and the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua is set for the grand stage, with the action commencing from 13:30h.
Both teams have qualified for the semi-finals, with table leaders Red Force having played four matches and registering wins in all, while the roaring Jaguars are in second position with three matches having been played and wins registered in as many matches.
According to captain Leon Johnson, the Jaguars are in high spirits and the team aims to take it one game at a time. “We have been in situations before where we were fancied to win or get in a final and it did not happen. So, the guys are cognisant of that,” he said.
In the last five competitions between the Jaguars and the Red Force, the Guyanese franchise chalked up one win while the Red Force have four wins. However, on their day, the Jaguars, with a well-rounded unit that is high on confidence, can topple the Red Force or any force for that matter.
Having recovered from his hamstring injury, Johnson, who is expected to return in the starting XI, believes the strength of the Jaguars is in the all-round players. “We have a lot of bowlers who can bat and batters who can bowl, so we have a lot of two- and three-dimensional cricketers, which makes us a very strong team,” Johnson said.
Speaking about promising fast bowler Nial Smith, who has six wickets in the tournament thus far, Johnson said the Berbician has been learning quickly. “His extra pace! I would like to get him into new batsmen when they are not settled. He bowls a good yorker. He played last year and he didn’t have the best of times, but he has learnt quickly; so, cudos to him.”
Numbers don’t lie, and the captain of the Jaguars is delighted to have team analyst Dinesh Mahabir.
“We have been working with an analyst for the first time, and it’s very useful. The amount of information that we have makes it a lot easier when we go on the field,” Johnson said in a recent Sean Devers Sports Watch.
“Mr. Consistent” Christopher Barnwell is the leading Jaguars batsman with 158 runs, including his maiden century, while Johnson has 106 runs in the two matches he played. Romario Shepherd (93) and Shimron Hetmyer (90) are also in the runs, while Anthony Bramble (85) has shown good signs with the bat.
Impressive left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie has reigned supreme with the ball, having taken nine wickets in three matches, while Smith (6) and Shepherd (5) are among the wickets.
Meanwhile, the Red Force looks a well-oiled unit, with Evin Lewis (233) and Jason Mohammed (203) leading the batting charts. Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul and Anderson Phillips each have six wickets in the tournament thus far.
After the Red Force’s latest victory against the Hurricanes, Pollard said his team was aiming to bat first, since all four of their wins came batting second. He noted that Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo are suffering with niggles, but it’s not too alarming. The West Indies white-ball captain has said his team would be aiming to continue that winning momentum.
Both teams are filled with ‘big gun’ players, and the match promises to be the biggest of the season thus far. Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran will be aiming to come good with the bat.
Guyana Jaguars squad reads: Leon Johnson (captain), Shimron Hetmyer (vice- captain), Assad Fudadin, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Kemol Savory, Christopher Barnwell, Keon Joseph, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair, Ramaal Lewis, Nial Smith, Gudakesh Motie, Anthony Bramble, Akshaya Persaud and Tevin Imlach.
Trinidad and Tobago Red Force squad reads: Kieron Pollard (captain), Darren Bravo (vice-captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Kjorn Ottley, Anderson Phillip and Khary Pierre.