The Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel take aim at the top spot in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 this weekend when they face defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs in their second home game at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain bowling off at 12 noon today.
The Tallawahs, led by Chris Gayle, are currently at the top of the standings with a perfect record of three wins from three matches while the Red Steel have won three out of their four matches and are on a high following a tough and entertaining last-ball win over the Guyana Amazon Warriors in front of a full house at the Oval on Thursday night.
Gayle said they paid close attention to that game before planning their strategy for the Red Steel and are wary of the threat posed by the Dwayne and Darren Bravo while the Red Steel coach Simon Helmet said being unpredictable could be the key to defeating the visitors.
Gayle said the upcoming clash is an important one and expects a competitive game from the Red Steel.
He also noted that it was imperative his players stay focused, especially against Bravo’s team.
“We have won three games on the trot so it is important to try and maintain that discipline and make it four games in four, but Red Steel (are) coming off a very competitive win, so I am sure their confidence is going to be high so we’ve got to be wary of that but at the same time we have to focus on ourselves and our strength and what we are capable of doing,” said Gayle.
Asked if the Tallawahs were thinking about any changes, Gayle joked: “I might swap Richardson for Darren Bravo; that might be the only change for the game.”
Gayle added that, “I am pretty happy with my form but I am also happy about the other guys playing big parts and the overall performance from a batting point of view,” he said.
About the team’s bowling, he said their spinners have been doing well but will be coming up against experienced batsmen.
“I am the secret weapon for the Bravo brothers,” Gayle joked.
Tallawahs coach Mickey Arthur added: “We saw the Red Steel under some pressure and they came out on top. They are a good side and I think it is going to be a cracking game between two very good, well matched teams.”
Both sides have been tested leading up to today’s game with the Red Steel beating the Guyana Amazon Warriors by four wickets off the last ball on Thursday night, and losing to the Warriors in a Super Over last week. They also beat the Barbados Tridents by seven wickets and 15 balls to spare and the Antigua Hawksbills by nine wickets with 17 balls to spare.
The Tallawahs have beaten the St Lucia Zouks by seven wickets with six balls to spare before beating the Hawksbills by eight wickets with 33 balls to spare. The held on to beat the Warriors by four runs in their previous match.
Despite their recent win however, Helmot said the Red Steel needed to improve in all areas.
“They (Tallawahs) are a very good all-round unit and we are expecting a fierce contest. We can improve in the beginning of our innings where we have lost a wicket in the first two overs in our matches, so it will be nice if we can have a stronger batting start,” he said.
“I think we need to make sure we stay unpredictable.” he added. “When you are trying to defend and score or chase down the score you need to make sure you are not predictable, I think that will be the key.”
T&T Red Steel: Dwayne Bravo (captain), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Fidel Edwards, Shannon Gabriel, Delorn Johnson, Kennar Lewis, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Nasir Jamshed, Kevin O’Brien, Nicolas Pooran, Ross Taylor.
Jamaica Tallawahs: Chris Gayle (captain), Rusty Theron, Andre Russell, Nikita Miller, Jerome Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Adam Voges, Jermaine Blackwood, David Bernard, Carlton Baugh, Owais Shah, Nkrumah Bonner, Chadwick Walton, Odean Brown, Andrew Richardson.