“The squad is going to win this tournament, not your best 11 or 12 players.”
Trinbago Knight Riders coach Brendon McCullum will have to do without key batsman Colin Munro and possibly spin-bowling all-round ace Sunil Narine for today’s Hero Caribbean Premier League semi-final against the Jamaica Tallawahs, but he is confident that whatever combination plays can get the job done at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy this morning (10 a.m.).
TKR were perfect in the preliminary phase of this bio-secure T20 series, their “bubble” never being burst as they won all ten games. Opening batsman/off-spinner Narine has only played in four of those games and just one of the last four because of kidney stones issues, and McCullum said yesterday, “we’re hopeful he’ll be right tomorrow (today).”
However, McCullum confirmed that middle order mainstay Munro is out of the rest of the tournament because of the blow to the wrist he received last week against the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. But the TKR coach feels that both in bowling and batting, his unit has proven that they can deal with any challenge, including whatever the Tallawahs produce today.
“To be sitting here on the eve of a semi-final with ten from ten is a magnificent effort I think,” he said. “Particularly because the conditions have been so extreme, you expect some results to sway a little bit but the way the guys have gone about their work has been second to none. It doesn’t guarantee us ultimate success but I know in tomorrow’s game in particular, I know we’ll play well.”
Tallawahs captain Rovman Powell will have his talisman Andre Russell to add middle order firepower and support to leading scorer, opener Glenn Phillips (314 runs). But Powell was still not sure if “Dre Russ” will be able to bowl because of his knee problem.
“He still has a lot of procedures that he has to go through today into tomorrow and hopefully he passes that, then the doctor would clear him to bowl,” Powell said.
Nevertheless, Powell said his players have gelled well and he will be looking toward spinners Mujeeb Ur-Rahman in the powerplay and in the middle overs, Sandeep Lamichhane, to significantly limit the likes of Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
Powell is also keenly aware that, “teams very rarely go through the entire competition without losing a game.” But the Tallawahs skipper does not want success because of a TKR off-day. “We want to beat Trinidad, but we want to beat Trinidad in a very good game,” he said.
In the second semi-final (5.30 p.m.), the Guyana Amazon Warriors will be aiming to reach their sixth CPL final when they take on the St Lucia Zouks who are into just their second final-four match.
Chris Green’s side have picked up momentum after a slow start and won their last four games to finish second in the preliminaries. He said his side had learnt from the heartbreak of last year when the only match they lost was in the final. “The belief is certainly there,” he said.
The Amazon Warriors and today’s opponents St Lucia Zouks split their two preliminary matches and go into the game with formidable spin bowling combinations. But Green said, “I think it’s going to come down to the batting, the guys who can get in there, build a partnership, put their hands up and deliver a big score or help the team get a big score and help us defend it or chase down whatever’s set for us.”
Zouks skipper Sammy however, was clear about the roles the spinners would play. “The way both teams’ spinners have won them matches, it will be both captains calling on that department again to deliver for them. But he also added: ”...there’s no excuse for the other guys...not to step up.” The former West Indies skipper stressed: “I want my guys to be really focussed and anybody put their hands up and do it for your team, do it for the fans.”