The clash between the two first-round winners here at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, just outside the Antigua & Barbuda capital, will be the key contest of a full slate of matches.
Jamaica Scorpions and Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, the two sides that were out of action in the first round of matches, due to unavailability of a match venue, will kick off their campaign this weekend.
Scorpions will be on the road and feature in a contest against first-round losers Barbados Pride at the Three Ws Oval, and Red Force will host Windward Islands Volcanoes, another side that lost in the first round, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.
Both teams enter the contest with confidence, having won their opening matches of the season.
Hurricanes prevailed over the Pride to shoot to the top of the standings, an unfamiliar place in recent years, and narrowly ahead of the Jaguars, winners over the Volcanoes.
As one of the two sides that has beaten the Jaguars in the Professional Cricket League era of the Championship – and twice – including a Championship record run chase – the Hurricanes will fancy their chances.
The hosts will also take comfort that the last time the two sides played at this venue, they dominated a drawn match.
With batting being the key for the Jaguars and bowling the strength for the Hurricanes, it looks like the match will be ultimately decided on how well the home team’s batting can cope with the varied bowling attack of the visitors.
HURRICANES (from) – Devon Thomas (captain), Sheno Berridge, Nelson Bolan, Keacy Carty, Rajendra Chandrika, Rahkeem Cornwall, Montcin Hodge, Damion Jacobs, Alzarri Joseph, Jeremiah Louis, Orlando Peters, Akeem Saunders, Terance Warde
IN–Bolan, Cornwall; OUT–Sheldon Cottrell, Daniel Doram
JAGUARS – Leon Johnson (captain), Christopher Barnwell, Anthony Bramble, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Trevon Griffith, Tevin Imlach, Keon Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Veerasammy Permaul, Akshaya Persaud, Clinton Pestano, Romario Shepherd, Vishaul Singh
UMPIRES – Jacqueline Williams (Jamaica), Joel Wilson (Trinidad & Tobago)
MATCH REFEREE – Vanroy Burnes
RESERVE UMPIRE – Bernard Joseph
Pride will be stung by their setback in the first round and will be looking to kick-start their season, but this will be the first match of the season for the Scorpions and they will be looking to do a similar thing.
History favours the Pride in this contest: They have won four of the eight contests between the two sides in the PCL era – including three on home soil, albeit they were all played at Kensington Oval, a few kilometres south from this venue.
The last time the Scorpions cracked the Pride code however, was four years ago at Kensington Oval, so there is hope for them to break the streak.
Paul Palmer has taken over the captaincy of the Scorpions once again and will looking for greater stability from his side than the last time he was in charge.
Both teams look well-balanced on paper with the return of WINDIES Test opener Kraigg Brathwaite and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican giving the Pride a boost.
With the likes of Jermaine Levy, Chadwick Walton and former Pride batting all-rounder Kenroy Williams in the Scorpions line-up and very familiar with the conditions having played competitively in Barbados, the outcome will be decided on the team that harness their talent and hold their collective nerves the best.
PRIDE (from) – Shamarh Brooks (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Justin Greaves, Keon Harding, Chemar Holder, Aaron Jones, Shayne Moseley, Shamar Springer, Tevyn Walcott, Hayden Walsh Jr, Jomel Warrican
IN–Brathwaite, Warrican; OUT–Anthony Alleyne, Nicholas Kirton
SCORPIONS (from) – Paul Palmer (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Dennis Bulli, John Campbell, Derval Green, Reynard Leveridge, Jermaine Levy, Andre McCarthy, Nikita Miller, Steven Taylor, Aldaine Thomas, Chadwick Walton, Kenroy Williams
UMPIRES – Leslie Reifer Jr, Nigel Duguid (Guyana)
MATCH REFEREE – Stephen Proverbs
RESERVE UMPIRE – Troy Tudor
This will be the first game of the season for the Red Force and they too, will be looking to get the better of a Volcanoes side that stumbled in the first round.
Red Force are under new leadership with long-standing leg-spinner Imran Khan taking over from Denesh Ramdin, but they will again be without a number of notable faces for one reason or the other, which has been their challenge over the last few seasons, losing valuable experience to give them the edge.
The home team will relish facing the visitors, considering they have won three of their last four matches against them, including two on home soil, albeit at Queen’s Park Oval in the Trinidad capital of Port-of-Spain.
Both teams are packed with a number of young players and will be how they cope with the pressure that will ultimately decide the outcome.
RED FORCE – Imran Khan (captain), Yannic Cariah, Bryan Charles, Joshua Da Silva, Kyle Hope, Ricky Jaipaul, Amir Jangoo, Jason Mohammed, Anderson Phillip, Odean Smith, Jeremy Solozano, Daniel St. Clair, Tion Webster
VOLCANOES – Kirk Edwards (captain), Alick Athanaze, Roland Cato, Tarryck Gabriel, Kavem Hodge, Delorn Johnson, Ray Jordan, Shermon Lewis, Shane Shillingford, Denis Smith, Devon Smith, Tyron Theophile, Josh Thomas
IN–Lewis, Smith; OUT–Audy Alexander, Ryan John
UMPIRES – Lyndon Rajkumar, Gregory Brathwaite (Barbados)
MATCH REFEREE – Hayden Bruce
RESERVE UMPIRE – Kellman Kowlessar
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