Can Shoaib Malik and Co. turn it around in this final? © Getty
Caribbean Premier League finals have invariably been about the richness of T20 sport, the culmination of a tournament in a parallel world that’s accessible to all but attended by some. There’s strong local flavour in that sense, and there’s colour and crowd. There’s three different winners in six editions. And there’s one perpetual runner-up.
Amazon Guyana Warriors have come out losers in five out of their five finale appearances. And here they come for the trophy again, not dead on their feet but better prepared than ever before. There’s a good reason why this might be their year. And it doesn’t manifest in The Shawshank Redemption’s umpteenth invocation of hope on internet but in how the Warriors have remained unbeaten this season.
Warriors have won 11 games on the trot now, three of them — two in the league round-robin and one in the Qualifier — coming against Barbados Tridents, their opponents in the Saturday’s finale showdown. 2014 was the last time these two teams met in a final, when Tridents won by a narrow margin of eight runs. Shoaib Malik was named the player of that match and will interestingly captain the Warriors this time around.
Up against him will be Jason Holder, now without the national captaincy in limited-overs but desperate to prove that he still has it. At his disposal is a team that’s looked unaffected by bad days, bouncing stronger after every defeat. Just that unlike the play-offs, there’s no second chance this time around.
It’s a little difficult to decide who’s the least favourite of the two. There’s one that’s blown hot and cold this tournament, taking the longer Eliminator-Qualifier 2 route but thoroughly brain-trained for a hard fight. And then there’s the other, that’s only blown hot this season, knowing wins off the back of their hand but wary of that one misstep. That they have only ever blown cold in finales doesn’t help.
It’s global malaise pitted against local and we will see which one comes out on top in cricket.
What: Guyana Amazon Warriors vs Barbados Tridents, CPL Final on Saturday (October 12) at 5:00PM local
Where: Brian Lara Stadium, Tarouba, Trinidad
What to expect: The venue is the same as that of Qualifier 2, when Barbados Tridents defended 160 amidst such heavy dew that the ball had to be changed multiple times. The final begins a couple of hours earlier, so the dew might not play that big a role, but expect the team winning the toss wanting to chase. That said, it will be an interesting call for Warriors if they win the toss. All three of their wins over Tridents this season have come batting first.
Guyana Amazon Warriors: Shoaib Malik will likely keep the winning XI intact and go with the same side.
Probable XI: Brandon King, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Shoaib Malik(c), Nicholas Pooran(w), Sherfane Rutherford, Chris Green, Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Imran Tahir
Barbados Tridents: JP Duminy retired hurt in the Qualifier 2 game against Trinbago Knight Riders, pulling a muscle after hitting a six and hobbling off the field. He will be under physio’s watch in the lead up to this game.
Probable XI: Johnson Charles, Alex Hales, Shakib Al Hasan, Shai Hope(w), Jean-Paul Duminy, Jonathan Carter, Jason Holder(c), Raymon Reifer, Ashley Nurse, Hayden Walsh, Harry Gurney
What they said
“You look at their team and they are packed with quality players who can win matches. They have fought hard along the way and they have shown that they can topple big teams. We are mindful of them” — Shoaib Malik, Warriors captain, doesn’t see a clear favourite in CPL finale
“We’ve scrapped for a lot of wins. It’s not ideal but I think it shows the character of the side. This is good for us going into any finals, knowing that your team can fight back from difficult situations” — Jason Holder, Tridents captain, isn’t reading much into their season record against Warriors