Trinidad and Tobago's cricketers leave for Barbados today with high expectations and full of confidence ahead of their opening game of the regional four-day tournament against Combined Campuses and Colleges in the first day-night match of the competition at 3Ws Oval, bowling off on Friday.
Denesh Ramdin will lead a strong T&T team who are still pumped up coming off their successful Caribbean Twenty20 title defence last week Sunday and coach Kelvin Williams is expecting a good showing from his charges.
Williams said: "I think coming off the CaribbeanT20 win, the team is still very confident but we will be going into that game knowing that CCC is a team that has given us trouble over the last two years and that we have not beaten them in Barbados since 2008.
"Yes, we are confident, but it is going to be a tough task against them at home.
"We were the first team to play a day- night four-day match (in 2010 against Guyana) and we are the first team to play one this year. The four-day is a different game but I back my players. They are intelligent and smart enough to make the adjustments required for the longer version," Williams added.
And despite being without the services of veteran off-spinner Amit Jaggernauth and West Indies pacer Ravi Rampaul for the opener, Williams still believes Trinidad and Tobago have a potent bowling attack filled with experience.
"Amit is not available but we have to play. We chose those spinners (Yannic Cariah, Sunil Narine and Imran Khan) who we believe can do the job for us," he said.
"I think we have a well-balanced pace attack and it is good to have Imran Khan around. He has taken over 100 first class wickets for us so we do have experience in the team."
Khan has played 33 first class matches, taking 109 wickets at an average of 24.21 with a strike rate of 48. He also has five five-wicket hauls.
T&T's pace attack will consist of Shannon Gabriel, Atiba Allert,† Rayad Emrit, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard .
Gabriel finished with 23 wickets last season, while Khan had 24 and Emrit 25. Jaggernauth took 27 wickets last year, while Cariah had 13.
Williams noted that towards the end of the Caribbean T20, Pollard was cleared to bowl but the two-time champions did not require his services in the final.
The coach was also pleased that his players took to the field with their respective clubs over the weekend in the Sunday League 50-over competition and spent some time in the middle trying to make the transition from T20 to the longer format.
He said that although they did not have any practice matches for the four-day tournament, "I think they will perform in the longer version.
"These guys were back to club cricket and they performed well. They need to be a bit more patient and soak up a bit more dot balls. They have to take their time and bat and try to construct their innings and I am confident they can make that mental adjustment," Williams added.
Openers Lendl Simmons and Adrian Barath both had solid innings on Sunday, with Simmons scoring 90 and Barath hitting 98. Darren Bravo and skipper Denesh Ramdin scored centuries on Saturday.
"It is nice to know that they can go out there and build an innings and I expect them to do well. It was also good that they went out there and played some club cricket and tried to get some form," the coach concluded.
T&T leave for Barbados this afternoon and will have their first training session in Barbados tomorrow.
T&T squad: Denesh Ramdin (Captain), Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Mohammed, Yannic Cariah, Rayad Emrit, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Imran Khan, Shannon Gabriel, Atiba Allert
Kelvin Williams (Coach), Omar Khan (Manager), Oba Gulston (Physio), Ronald Rogers (Trainer).