The last time the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force faced the Jamaica Scorpions in the semi-finals of the regional Super50 Cup, it was a record-breaking encounter and the Red Force came out on the losing end.
Today, a rematch of the 2016/17 semi will take place at the same venue, Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, and the Red Force will be hoping to create their piece of history.
Kieron Pollard’s men are unbeaten after the preliminary round of the competition, winning all five of their matches and are looking to lift their first Super50 trophy since 2016 and their 13th overall.
The Red Force skipper spoke confidently ahead of today’s clash, which gets underway from 1.30 pm, noting that his team will continue with their “tunnel vision” as they try to get over the semi-final hurdle that has been tripping them up in the last few years.
The Red Force fell short at the semi-final stage in the previous two editions of the tournament, losing to the Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the 2019/20 season and the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) in the 2018/19 campaign.
The Red Force failed to make the knockout stage in 2017/18 and in 2016/17, Jamaica scored a tournament-record 434 for four on their way to a 292-run victory against T&T in the semis.
“We are not looking back at 2018, obviously that would have been disappointing for us getting bowled out for 100-odd against CCC, so we are not really looking in that direction,” Pollard said of the team’s previous semi-final bouts.
“What we are looking at is to improve as a team. What is done is done and we know by leaps we have been a very consistent team throughout the entire tournament, and we just want to continue doing that. We will be sitting and planning how we want to attack the Jamaican batting and bowling and we are looking to come out on top and get to that final. We are looking forward to that.”
“The past is the past; we can’t bring it back. We are going to stick to our tunnel vision that we have been doing throughout the tournament and hopefully we can get over that hurdle that we haven’t been able to cross for the last two years or so,” he added.
The Red Force skipper also insisted that complacency is not something he is expecting in his camp, especially in a do or die match.
He said he is looking for “consistent cricket” and that “all the good cricket we have played can come to nothing if we lose one game, so we have to be on our Ps and Qs and we have to execute what we want to do as a team and we will move forward with that mentality.”
Pollard also noted that the Red Force can’t just simply turn up and expect to beat Jamaica, who are coming off two victories and whose confidence will be high.
Meanwhile, the Scorpions skipper Rovman Powell said his players will have to step up if they are to have any chance of beating the Red Force today and indicated that the Jamaican players returning from the West Indies tour of Bangladesh — Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood and John Campbell — could be in line to return to the Scorpions side for the semi.
“Once the Covid tests come back negative, I think we have the word from CWI that those guys are available for the semi-finals,” Powell told the media yesterday.
However, Powell insisted: “Our key players have to come to the party, and I think this is the game we are looking for them to come to the party and for those players to step up their game.”
In terms of team news, he said there are still some injury concerns over Sheldon Cottrell, and he would have been assessed again at their afternoon training session yesterday.
RED FORCE (from): Kieron Pollard (captain), Darren Bravo (Vice-Captain), Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kjorn Ottley, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Anderson Phillip, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Lendl Simmons; David Furlonge (head coach).
SCORPIONS (from): Rovman Powell (captain), Derval Green (Vice-Captain), Fabian Allen, Dennis Bulli, Sheldon Cottrell, Javel Glenn, Brandon King, Andre McCarthy, Jamie Merchant, Romaine Morris, Paul Palmer, Jeavor Royal, Odean Smith, Aldaine Thomas, Oshane Thomas; Andre Coley (head coach).
At Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua
T&T Red Force vs Jamaica Scorpions, 1.30 p.m.
Guyana Jaguars vs Windward Islands Volcanoes, 1.30 p.m.