At 5 pm this evening T&T’s culture will be on show, and from 8 pm the country’s cricketers will try to match that when they come up against Jamaica in the opening match of the final regional T20 cricket series at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
Defending champions T&T, also referred to as Red Force, will start as favourites for a hat-trick of titles and will be looking to their West Indian stars to take them to victory. Their first assignment is against the beaten finalists last year—Jamaica.
The Jamaicans have already revealed that the team they are targeting is T&T, and will be looking to create an upset in front what is expected to be a massive crowd.
Checks with Patrick Rampersad, chairman of the regional matches committee, revealed that tickets are going like hot bread and a crowd of about 15,000 is expected.
Yesterday, the T&T team went through final paces and manager of the team Omar Khan is reporting that everything is fine and ready to go. “We are going to take each game as a final and with this attitude, it leaves no place for complacency. The guys have been working very hard in the lead up to the tournament and will be putting their all into bringing success the way of T&T.
“They could not have asked for a better warm-up clash against the Windwards in the week because it showed them that everyone is on the prowl to knock them off the top, and they have to be on their game from ball one.”
T&T had a five-wicket victory over the Windwards at UTT in O’Meara in the week but it came with just one ball to spare and it took a fourth wicket partnership of 103 between Darren Bravo (64) and skipper Denesh Ramdin (42) to bail them out of trouble.
Khan continued: “The management has stressed that the team which makes less mistakes in a T20 match is the one that wins. They need to be mindful of that as they take the field against a talented Jamaican outfit. Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels may be missing, but they are packed with other match winners and we have to execute well against them.”
T&T will be going into the match without two of their eight players that took the West Indies to the world T20 title in Sri Lanka last year. All rounder Keiron Pollard will fly in from the Australian Big Bash tonight, while pacer Ravi Rampaul has been ruled out with a knee injury.
“We will miss the duo for the opening game but the good thing is that this team has good bench strength and we expect nothing less than a thorough professional showing from the guys.”
Prior to the first game, Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar will officially open the tournament and deliver an address. The opening of the tournament will feature a number of prominent local artistes and there will be a carnival atmosphere at the ground, as the ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism has set up a ‘Carnival Village’ on the western end of the ground. Gates open at 3 pm.
Teams: Trinidad and Tobago: Denesh Ramdin (captain), Darren Bravo (vice captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Rayad Emrit, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Yannick Ottley, Evin Lewis, William Perkins and Lendl Simmons.
Jamaica: Tamar Lambert (captain), David Bernard Jr. (vice captain) Nkrumah Bonner, Odean Brown, John Campbell, Sheldon Cotterell, Yannick Elliott, Danza Hyatt, Andre McCarthy, Jamie Merchant, Nikita Miller, Andre Russell, Krishmar Santokie, Aldane Thomas.