Spin has played a key role in all Trinidad and Tobago’s home victories so far this season and leg-spinner Imran Khan expects that trend to continue when they host Jamaica in their Regional Four-Day championship match at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, bowling off at 10 a.m. today.
In T&T’s first game this season against the Windward Islands, left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein took six for 33 and five for 34 but was injured in the second match against the Leeward Islands. Khan stepped up against the Leewards with seven wickets as T&T won by an innings and 107 runs.
Khan took seven more in T&T’s ten wicket win over the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) and is T&T’s leading wicket-taker this season with 19 wickets. With three wins and one loss, T&T are third on the Regional Four-day standings with 56 points, six behind second-placed Windwards and nine behind leaders Barbados.
Speaking to the Express during a T&T training session at the Oval yesterday, Khan said: “Spin should play a big role in the game (against Jamaica). We have some quality spinners in the team and we depend on them to get most of the wickets.” However, the leg-spinner noted that the T&T pacers also played a key part in their success so far.
“We also have Shannon Gabriel and Rayad Emrit doing an excellent job at the top so it is an all-round effort that has been working for us and that is what we need against Jamaica,” he added.
Gabriel has been in good form taking 14 wickets in four matches this season as he works towards regaining his place on the West Indies Test team ahead of the home series against New Zealand which starts in June.
The Jamaicans, who are fourth on the standings with 41 points, come to T&T on the back of two consecutive defeats--against the Windwards and Barbados. But Khan said T&T will be bracing for a tough game.
“For the past couple years, Jamaica have been one of the top four-day teams in the Caribbean and after coming off a loss in their previous game, they will be coming at us but I think we should be able to conquer them,” he said.
T&T have named an unchanged squad for the match, with skipper Emrit, who did not bowl in T&T’s previous win due to back spasms, keeping his place in the 13-man squad.
Jamaica have made two changes, with uncapped 22-year-old pacer Nicholson Gordon coming in for the injured Dave Bernard Jr and leg-spinner Odean Brown replacing off-spinner Jamie Merchant.
In the other Regional Four-day games starting today, the Windwards host CCC at Arnos Vale in St Vincent and the Leeward Islands take on Guyana at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua.
All games bowl off at 10 a.m.
T&T: Rayad Emrit (Captain), Adrian Barath, Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo, Jason Mohammed, Jonathan Augustus, Imran Khan, Steven Katwaroo, Shannon Gabriel, Amit Jaggernauth, Kieron Pollard Ricky Jaipaul, Marlon Richards. Kelvin Williams (Coach), Manohar Ramsaran (Manager), Clinton Jeremiah (Trainer), Dinesh Mahabir (Analyst).
Jamaica: Tamar Lambert (Captain), Carlton Baugh Jr, Jon-Ross Campbell, Jerome Taylor, Nkrumah Bonner, Damion Jacobs, André McCarthy, Jermaine Blackwood, John Campbell, Horace Miller, Jamie Merchant, Brian Buchanan, Nicholson Gordon, Odean Brown.
Regional Four-Day Standings
M W L D Bat Bowl Pts
1. Barbados 5 3 1 1 11 15 65
2. Windwards 5 3 1 1 8 15 62
3. T&T 4 3 1 0 9 11 56
4. Jamaica 4 2 2 0 7 10 41
5. CCC 4 1 2 1 6 9 30
6. Leewards 4 1 3 0 2 11 25
7. Guyana 4 0 3 1 3 11 17
Abbreviations: Pts-total points, M-matches, W-won, L-lost, D-drawn, Bat-batting points,