THE TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) and the Guyana Amazon Warriors will meet for the fourth time in 11 days in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Both teams will be contesting the final of the 2018 edition, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba from 5 pm today.
The Amazon Warriors booked their place in today’s decider, for the fourth time in the tournament’s six-year history, after a two-wicket win against the TKR in Tuesday’s playoff at the Providence Stadium, Guyana.And the TKR, winners on home soil in 2014 (then TT Red Steel) and 2017, whipped St Kitts/Nevis Patriots by 20 runs in Friday’s eliminator at Tarouba.
TKR captain Dwayne Bravo, in yesterday morning’s pre-game media conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, said, “The people here always come out and support us. I expect a full house and it’s going to be a final to remember. May the (better) team win to lift the new trophy.”
The 34-year-old Bravo hopes that the TKR players will continue the momentum gained from Friday night’s win. Bravo commented, “I think the two best teams remain. The fans are going to get a very good cricket game. We played (on Friday) night and it (was) a good win, which is good for us. We just want to take that momentum into the game (today).”
In a preliminary round at the Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair on September 5, TKR spanked the Amazon Warriors by 67 runs, but the Amazon Warriors responded with a six-wicket victory at the Providence Stadium four days later.
Amazon Warriors’ captain, South African-born Australian off-spinner Chris Green, acknowledged, “(Trinbago have) been the form team all competition. I think it’s really exciting for the final to have them as a part of it. Having their home fans will make the atmosphere at the ground really exciting.
“And that’s what you really ask for. You want it to be as memorable as possible, regardless of the result. I think that’s what we’re in for.”
Pakistan-born Fawad Ahmed (Australian leg-spinner) and Ali Khan (United States pacer) have been the TKR leading wicket-takers with 21 and 15 respectively.
“Both of them I’m very impressed with,” said Bravo. “Fawad replaced (Pakistan’s) Shadab Khan, another world-class player, and a lot of people weren’t sure about (him). I think coming here in the Caribbean he was going to be a handful. At this late stage of his career, hopefully he’ll get the opportunity to Australia again.
“With Ali Khan, I went to play in a league in the (United States) last year and we both were on the same team. I took his number and I said, ‘I’ll try my best to get you into TKR’. He (came) to Trinidad I said to him ‘yes you’re a young player but you’re going to be the leader of my seam-bowling department’. Ali Khan (made) a big mark and a big impression on the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
Ace TKR off-spinner Sunil Narine featured in Friday’s match despite a damaged shoulder, which he suffered in a pre-game practice session. According to Bravo, “The doctor and the physio will do everything in their powers to make sure he’s up and ready to go for (today). The way he bowled showed the class and commitment he has for the team.”
On the opposite end, the 24-year-old Green is keeping his fingers crossed that West Indies all-rounder Keemo Paul can overcome a thigh injury to feature in today’s match.
“The rest (of players are) all fit and ready to go,” Green noted. “It’s a tough selection for us to have, with a lot of players putting their hands up at crucial stages in the tournament and performing.”
Green, who replaced stand-in skipper Rayad Emrit after the September 5 TKR-Amazon Warriors match, pointed out, “We’re really looking forward to one last opportunity to have fun and, if all goes well and all goes our way, then we’ll get to hold the trophy at the end.”
Green also lauded the trio of Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford and Romario Shepherd, who have been consistent during the latter stages of the Amazon Warriors’ campaign. “It’s really exciting to see these young guys coming through and taking the game on in a fearless way, regardless of the situation,” he said.