TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) men's coach Phil Simmons expects a competitive showdown against unbeaten Guyana Amazon Warriors today, but he is confident his team can pull of a victory in their first home game of the 2023 Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
TKR and Amazon Warriors will lock horns at the Queen's Park Oval in St Clair at 7 pm. The franchises will battle for the entire day as the TKR women meet the Amazon Warriors women in the Massy Women's CPL at 2.30 pm at the same venue.
The TKR teams returned home on Monday to a welcome party by Carib at the Piarco International Airport.
Amazon Warriors are second in the standings with three wins and one no-result from four matches. After starting the tournament with a no-result and a loss, TKR have won three matches on the trot and sit third in the table. Both teams have seven points, but Amazon Warriors are ahead because of a better net run rate.
St Lucia Kings lead the standings, Barbados Royals are fourth, Jamaica Tallawahs fifth and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots sixth.
"TKR camp is fine. TKR camp has always been buzzing, even under all the rain in St Lucia we were still buzzing," Simmons said at a media conference at the Hyatt, Port of Spain on Monday. "Things are good, we are enjoying what we are doing...Winning comes from enjoyment, so we are enjoying what we are doing."
He said Guyana would be challenging but believes TKR are hitting their stride.
"They (Guyana) are playing some excellent cricket so it is going to be a tough game for us, but we seem to be getting our footing right now."
Different players have stepped up during the tournament for TKR, which has pleased Simmons. "Somebody is going to put up their hand at different points. I think when you look at the team, the number one person you expect to put up his hand is Nicholas (Pooran) and we have not seen his class as yet and still we won three games, so it is nice that people put up their hand in situations."
That sort of teamwork helped TKR pull off an unlikely win against Tallawahs on Sunday in Barbados, said Simmons. TKR could only post 142/8 batting first, but still managed to win by two runs.
"Not many people believed we could defend 140, so that's nice for us."
Dwayne Bravo was rested for the Tallawahs match, but still made his presence felt as he was seen on the boundary giving advice to the players on the field.
Speaking about Bravo, Simmons said jokingly, "We hired him yesterday as assistant, he was part of the coaching staff yesterday.
"Somebody like that gives all, it does not matter if he is on the field or off the field he gives all...that is the person he is. That's how much he gives to this team...it is nothing unusual for us to see that."
TKR were penalised in a match against Patriots on August 27 for bowling their overs too slowly. One penalty was Sunil Narine being given a red card after the 19th over, similar to football. Teams must complete the 19th over 80 minutes and 45 seconds into the innings and the last over by the 85-minute mark.
CEO of CPL Pete Russell also attended the media conference. Russell said the rule was implemented with the fans in mind.
"The reality is we are saving time...At the end of the season we will see if it is something we want to persist with.
"Fans come from a long way away. If you are coming up to the Queen's Park Oval to watch these games from down south it takes you an hour and a bit to get home...We want people to get home in good time."
The average time of the CPL match last year was three hours and 48 minutes, but many matches this year have been completed in about three hours and 30 minutes."
At the airport on Monday, TKR manager Colin Borde said he expects a full house at the Oval, and wants supporters to bring their "good vibes" and energy.
"We are happy to be home and we're thankful for the very warm welcome from Carib and TT, and we expect some really good things over the next week or so," Borde said. "We have been seeing all the love on social media. We expect as usual that we will get full vibes and support from all the people of TT."