Kissoondath Magram

HOPING TO PLAY: Leg-spinner Kissoondath Magram, seen during his first-innings haul of 5-73 in the final Red Force three-day trial match at the National Cricket Centre in Couva on January 4. Magram is one of five spinners in the 13-man squad named to play Leeward Islands Hurricanes and Guyana Jaguars in consecutive matches.

--Photo: ROGER SEEPERSAD

Leg-spinner Kissoondath Magram and middle order batsman Jason Mohammed have been included in the 13-man Trinidad and Tobago Red Force team the for the next two matches in the West Indies Championship four-day tournament.

Magram, who is yet to make his first-class debut, has forced his way into the team following consistent performances in the build-up to the new season while Mohammed is fit again after missing out in the first match due to injury.

Magram and Mohammed replace Isaiah Rajah and Kyle Hope in the squad which will remain unchanged for the trip to Guyana for the third round of the competition next week.

Rajah was not selected for the opening game while Hope, who was in the starting line-up, failed to make an impression with the bat.

With the team for the match against the Jaguars already confirmed it means former skipper Denesh Ramdin, veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan and fast-bowler Ravi Rampaul will not play for the Red Force, at least until next month, as the tournament takes a one-week break following the third round.

Khan missed the first game with a shoulder injury while Ramdin is currently serving a two-match ban.

Fast-bowler Anderson Phillip, who is still recovering from injuries sustained in the Super50 late last year, is also out.

Magram’s inclusion will give the Darren Bravo-led Red Force another spin option following their season-opening draw against Jamaica Scorpions this past weekend.

While Bravo saw only “positives” coming out of the match, especially with his batsmen piling up in excess of 450 runs in their first innings, the bowling unit, made up of left-arm orthodox spinners Akeal Hosein and Yannick Ottley, leg-spinner Yannic Cariah, off-spinner Bryan Charles and medium pacers Uthman Muhammad and Terrance Hinds, couldn’t dismiss the visitors twice on a flat Brian Lara Cricket Academy wicket in Tarouba.

They return to the same venue tomorrow for the second match of the new season against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, who will be boosted by West Indies’ latest Test spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall. Cornwall missed the Hurricanes’ opener which they lost at home to defending champions Guyana Jaguars by ten wickets.

Both Bravo and coach Mervyn Dillon praised the Red Force players following their drawn first game and were optimistic about the team going forward.

Dillon was excited to see the younger players stepping up, with debutant Keagan Simmons hitting a half-century, Joshua Da Silva scoring his maiden first-class ton and Cariah showing a different side of his game with an exciting hundred. Jeremy Solozano and Bravo also scored half-centuries in the match.

“I am quite happy with the way the guys played,” Dillon told the media following the drawn opener.

“Scoring 460 for four, I think, was amazing and I commended them on that. We had a few chances in the catching and that has been a concern for me, and we will continue to work on that but, overall, I am happy.

Dillon was also pleased with the team’s bowling unit, saying: “The guys tried and I was happy with the effort, For me, it was the little chances that went abegging that will be a concern. It is not as much as previous games but I am happy with the bowling. I am really heartened with what I saw.”

Meanwhile, Da Silva spoke during the team’s training session at Balmain, Couva yesterday, saying the home team will be looking for a similar effort from the players against the Hurricanes.

Speaking about his ton, Da Silva said, “I just wanted to get that first century and really stake my claim. It makes me want to work harder to keep improving and moving up.”

Looking ahead to the next game, Da Silva added: “We are just going to go out there and play the cricket that we know. We are all gelling well as a team and we all want to repeat what we did, batting wise, and hopefully we can get 20 wickets and win the game.”

RED FORCE SQUAD:

Darren Bravo (captain), Yannick Ottley (vice-captain), Jeremy Solozano, Keagan Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Joshua Da Silva, Yannic Cariah, Terrance Hinds. Bryan Charles, Kissoondath Magram, Akeal Hosein, Odean Smith, Uthman Muhammad. Mervyn Dillon (coach), David Furlonge (manager).

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