Trinidad and Tobago cricket captain Denesh Ramdin says their first game in the Champions League Twenty20 on Sunday will be crucial in determining his team’s fortunes in the competition.
T&T face Brisbane Heat in their Group B opener on Sunday in the first match of a double-header at JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi, India which will also see Chennai Super Kings coming up against the Titans in the feature match.
The other team in Group B will be the second placed team from the qualifiers which bowl off today.
The teams in the qualifiers are Faisalabad Wolves, Otago, Kandurata Maroons and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“I think our first game will say how far we go in this tournament,” Ramdin told the Express during a Ministry of Tourism press conference at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain last week.
“We need to win our first game to ease that pressure and nerves so the guys could play throughout the tournament comfortably and I think that will set us up nicely so it will be good for us if we can win that first game,” he added.
But to win, the T&T skipper says they will have to handle the pressure better than how they did in previous tournaments.
In their 2011 appearance, T&T got through the qualifiers with ease only to lose to Mumbai Indians in a tense Group stage match which saw the Indians win by one wicket off the last ball of the match.
T&T also lost their second match to New South Wales Blues via a Super Over after the scores were tied at the end of the match.
They defeated Chennai Super Kings and then Cape Cobras in two more close matches and just missed out on reaching the semi-finals.
Last year T&T were involved in the qualifying stage where they lost their first match and subsequently failed to reach the group stage.
“I think we need to handle the pressure a little better,” the T&T skipper said.
“We have some younger players in the team like Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, and Shannon Gabriel and hopefully those guys could handle the pressure and do well for us,” he added.
And although he would have liked to reach India sooner to have more time to acclimatise, he said “we have to work with what we have and adapt quickly and hit the ground running.”
“I think we have been in good stead so far. We had some good practice games in Guyana and Dominica and the guys are coming along quite nicely.”
He added: “The support from the management staff is there as well as from the Board (T&T Cricket Board) and the sponsors the Ministry of Tourism and the National Gas Company.
“Everyone is really looking forward to us going out there and doing well in this tournament and once we get those first couple of games out of the way with some wins under our belts, I believe we can get into the semi-finals.”
The T&T skipper has also been working hard on his own game to ensure his team can rely on him when they need to.
“I have been really working hard. I did not make the most of the opportunities I got in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League T20) so hopefully in this tournament I can do better with the bat. Whether I am batting at number five or four, I want to get some good scores under my belt,” he explained.
“Getting good scores is one part of it, but winning matches will be most important,” the T&T wicketkeeper added.