BIG LOSS: Trinidad and Tobago pacer Ravi Rampaul.

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BIG LOSS

Rampaul withdrawn from Caribbean T20

By Roger Seepersad

Trinidad and Tobago pacer Ravi Rampaul will miss the Caribbean Twenty20 after all with a knee injury which will keep him on the sidelines for the next two to three weeks.

The 28-year-old fast bowler will be replaced by all-rounder Rayad Emrit for the CT20 which bowls off on Sunday and T&T may have some tactical changes to make to compensate for his loss.

Rampaul picked up the injury while on the West Indies tour of Bangladesh. He was expected to be fit enough for the January 6-20.

Quoting an e-mail from Dr Anyl Gopeesingh, T&T manager Omar Khan said yesterday: "Unfortunately Ravi continues to have symptoms in his right patella tendon."

Khan also noted that the injury had the potential to flare up while playing.

"He was assessed yesterday (Wednesday) by Dr Gopeesingh and after the assessment and an MRI scan, it was decided that he would not be fully fit for the tournament and the recommendation is to rest him rather than taking a risk and playing him and he breaks down during the tournament which could put him out for a longer period of time," he said.

The T&T manager added: "Ravi will be out for two to three weeks and we are hoping to have him back for the start of the four-day tournament in February.

"On the recommendation of the medical staff and the physiotherapist Dr Oba Gulston, the selectors have decided they will replace Ravi for the tournament with Rayad Emrit."

Emrit, who was a part of T&T's Champions League T20 squad last year, was originally left out of the CT20 team but has had some encouraging performances in recent practice matches.

Nevertheless, Khan said Rampaul's withdrawal was a big loss for T&T who will now have to tweak their game plans.

"It is a disappointment because Ravi is a West Indies bowler and he is one of our main bowlers in terms of opening the bowling and bowling at the death. We obviously have to make some adjustments and the technical staff will be looking at different strategies having lost Ravi as an option.

"Those are things we will have to look at in terms of who is going to take up that responsibility," he explained.

Khan also believes that Emrit could deliver when it counts.

"Rayad has been around for quite a while," he said. "He has been one of our better all-rounders in the T&T set-up so he has the experience and if called upon, I am sure he will grab the opportunity with both hands. He knows exactly what he has to do."

Focusing on the tournament, Khan said T&T will be looking to hit the ground running when they face rivals Jamaica in Sunday's opener at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain from 8 p.m.

He said: "In T20 cricket, all teams can cause an upset. Playing Jamaica in the first game it is a big game. They have always been in the semi-finals and finals in the tournament.

"T&T have won the Caribbean T20 two out of three times and we have played Jamaica in the final and in the semis and in the third-place play-off. We have won all our games against them but they are a good team. We are not going to underestimate any team," the T&T manager insisted.

He also noted that Kevon Cooper has recovered from a knee injury and that Dwayne Bravo is fit enough to bowl after recovering from a groin problem.

He said the availability both Cooper and Bravo and the return of Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard from the Australian Big Bash T20 series will strengthen the T&T bowling.

"We have Sunil coming back into the team and we have Samuel Badree. Pollard is coming back as an all-rounder. Dwayne has not been bowling but he started back so all those are things are positive signs. We have a number of people who can come in and bowl a few overs," Khan added.

Narine was expected to arrive in T&T yesterday and will be available for T&T's first match on Sunday while Pollard is expected back on Monday ahead of T&T's second game against the Combined Campuses and Colleges on Tuesday night from 8 p.m.

T&T were in action in their final T20 practice match against the Windward Islands at the UTT ground in O'Meara last night and will be heading into a pre-tournament camp today.

T&T squad: Denesh Ramdin (Captain), Darren Bravo (Vice Captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Rayad Emrit, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Yannick Ottley, Evin Lewis, William Perkins, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons.

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