Leon Johnson and Darren Bravo
Leon Johnson and Darren Bravo.

By Ravi Madholall
A fierce battle is highly anticipated between defending champions Guyana Jaguars and points-leaders Trinidad and Tobago Red Force when actions get cracking on Thursday in the third round of the 2020 regional four-day tournament.

Both powerhouse regional sides will assemble at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank, Demerara at 09:30 hrs for the clash.

Jaguars have suffered mixed fortunes so far since the commencement of the Professional Cricket Championships with a big win in their opening encounter against Leeward Islands Hurricanes while they went down to nemesis Barbados by seven wickets in the next fixture.

The two finished games were away matches at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and Barbuda and Kensington Oval, Barbados, respectively.

They are currently placed at number 4 with 24.8 points but Red Force occupying the top-spot with 29.6 follow by Windward Islands Volcanoes at second merely below at 29.4 and Barbados Pride in third position (25.6).

Guyana Jaguars, who have been ruling supremacy for the past five consecutive years with the prestigious title, might still start the contest as favorites alluding to the fact of those unprecedented statistics in this revamped ten-round structure, which was introduced in 2014.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force were rampant in the last game virtually in every aspect and will certainly be a force to reckon with on this occasion again.

The side is led by one of their most established batsmen Darren Bravo, who has represented West Indies in 54 tests, 110 one-day internationals and 20 T20s after making his debut in the abbreviated format (50-overs) first during 2009.

The elegant left-handed Bravo started off this year’s edition with 66 against Jamaica Scorpions in a drawn encounter while he would seen two other specialist batsmen Joshua DaSilva and Yannic Cariah also chalking up unbeaten centuries in the same match.

The batting continued to flourish after Trinidad and Tobago Red Force piled up a gigantic 552-9 declared against Leeward Islands Hurricanes still on home soil with Bravo himself waltzed his way to an impressive 133 while rookie Terrance Hinds made 102.

All said, the batting looks very formidable while the bowling was equally Admirable marshaled by the experienced left-arm orthodox spinner Akeal Hosein who has got 15 wickets to be the leading bowler in that department. His four consecutive spells revealed: 4-58, 3-65, 2-32 and 6-62 and would definitely be intimidating against the Jaguars’ players.

He is expected to lead the attack and will run into to a totally different surface to the Brain Lara Cricket Academy venue, which hosted Red Force’s previous two games. Providence’s pitch is known to be slow but could see the slowmen getting prodigious turn. Guyana Jaguars have got two quality spinners in their lineup with not only first-class vast experience but leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and left-arm bowler Veerasammy Permaul can also be dangerous. They both featured in the maroon colors at the highest level as well.

Guyana Jaguars have been successful year after year compliments of Bishoo and Permaul while the pacers have also been consistent. Keon Joseph was fiery in Barbados and got a four-wicket haul but in a losing effort while Nial Smith began his career at this level with a sixers against Hurricanes.

Another excellent seamer Raymond Reifer has done well but he will be out of service for this confrontation owing to injury.

The interesting thing for the South American Franchise, no batsman was able to register a hundred as yet, with only all-rounder Christopher Barnwell getting to 82.

Obdurate opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul scored two fifties, 60 and 66 while Vishaul Singh made 79. Skipper Leon Johnson and Chanderpaul Hemraj were the other two primary batsmen to hit half-centuries, 59 and 52 respectively.

Guyana Jaguars team reads: Leon Johnson (captain), Vishaul Singh, Anthony Bramble, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Barnwell, Tevin Imlach, Ronaldo AliMohamed, Kevin Sinclair, Veerasammy Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Keon Joseph and Nial Smith.

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force squad reads: Darren Bravo (Captain), Yannic Cariah, Bryan Charles, Joshua daSilva, Terrance Hinds, Akeal Hosein, Jason Mohammed, Uthman Muhammed, Kissoondat Magram, Yannick Ottley, Keagan Simmons, Jeremy Solozano and Odean Smith.