Defending champions Queen’s Park Cricket Club will open the NGC sponsored Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board National League Twenty20 Festival today against underdogs Esmeralda in the first game of a Premier Division quarter-final doubleheader at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre, starting at 3 p.m.
The second match of the doubleheader will see the Diego Martin-based Merry Boys taking on First Citizens Clarke Road United from 7 p.m.
Esmeralda, who upset PowerGen Penal in the final match in the round robin phase of the tournament to book their place today’s quarter-finals, will be looking for another big upset, this time against Queen’s Park, who will be without some of their big guns.
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine are all in India for the Indian Premier League and will miss today’s encounter.
But the Parkites still have a strong line-up with West Indies pacer Fidel Edwards joining the squad, which already includes their skipper Justin Guillen along with opening batsman Adrian Barath, middle-order batsman Marlon Barclay, fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and spinner Amit Jaggernauth.
And if the Parkites get past Esmeralda today, Jamaica spinner Nikita Miller will join the squad for the remainder of the competition.
But getting past Esmeralda will not be easy.
The Central team will have hard-hitting Guyanese batsman Trevon Griffith in their ranks along with the regulars like fast-bowling all-rounder Teshawn Castro, Anthony D’Andrade and Gajanand Singh, who scored 51 off 34 balls to get them past PowerGen.
Today’s second match also promises to be a keen contest with Merry Boys banking on the strength of their local stars to beat their Penal-based opponents.
Barbados all-rounder Alcindo Holder and Guyana’s Shemroy Barrington are also in the mix, while Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder Rayad Emrit and pacer Marlon Richards will provide the venom in the team’s bowling attack which also includes left-arm orthodox spinner Javid Ramdhanie and chinaman bowler Emile Rajah.
The other two Premier Division T20 quarter-finals will be played tomorrow with another underdog team Caldrac Club, who are also from the Central area, up against Moosai Sports in the 3 p.m. match before PowerGen Penal tackle Seenath’s Auto Bamboo Sports in the 7 p.m. fixture.
Caldrac turned a few heads in the Premier Division competition when they finished second in their group behind PowerGen in the round robin competition and will be looking to maintain their good run and overcome Moosai who finished third in their group.
Moosai have a strong team again this year with Kjorn Ottley and Yannick Ottley both joining the club this season to complement the already strong lineup which includes William Perkins, Navin Stewart, Aneil Kanhai, Nicholas Alexis and Barbados all-rounder Javon Searles.
PowerGen topped their group and will be one of the favorites to progress to the semifinals with Evin Lewis, Nicholas Sookdeosingh, Jason Mohammed and Sherwin Ganga among the stars in their line-up.
The National League T20 Festival will also feature the Championship Division T20 semi-finals and final.
The Premier Division teams will be playing for a $150,000 first prize while the Championship Division teams will play for a $50,000 first prize.