VITAL points will be on the line for Jamaica Tallawahs when they square off with red-hot Trinbago Knight Riders in today’s tantalising Caribbean Premier League (CPL) clash at Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.
The Tallawahs, CPL champions in 2013 and 2016, are fourth in the preliminary league table with six points but would climb to third place with victory against the Knight Riders.
Rovman Powell, the Tallawahs captain, conceded it will be no easy feat against the league-leading Knight Riders, who have maximum 12 points from six games.
“It’s definitely a big clash. Trinidad are the most consistent team — they’ve won all their games so far,” Powell told the Jamaica Observer.
“I think we are peaking at the right time toward the back-end of the competition. It’s just for us to get our plan straight and go out and execute,” he said, noting his team’s bid for a top four play-off spot.
The Trinidad-based franchise, the most successful team in the history of the tournament with three CPL Twenty20 (T20) titles, is virtually through to the play-offs.
St Lucia Zouks are second in the league with 10 points, followed by last season’s losing finalists Guyana Amazon Warriors (six), title- holders Barbados Tridents (four), and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots (two).
Powell is hopeful that superstar all-rounder Andre Russell will be fit enough to play today after missing the last two games due to injury.
“If Russell is able to make it, that’s fantastic for us. We know Russell is a world-class player. Russell is indeed the best T20 player, so if we can get him back for the game it would boost us significantly,” the 27-year-old skipper said.
Last time out, the Tallawahs comfortably beat Patriots by 37 runs. The victory was set up after they laid the platform with a cautious approach through the opening half of the innings before accelerating to reach 147-6.
Opening batsman Glenn Phillips led the way with a measured, unbeaten knock of 79.
“This CPL is a CPL like no other. It’s quite clear that ball is dominating bat, and whenever that happens you try your best not to lose a lot of early wickets because it is so difficult for batters to start,” Powell explained.
“We want to bat to the first 10 overs — try not to lose a lot of wickets — and any runs you get, you just take it. Then, you try to go a little bit more aggressively in the last 10 [overs],” he added.
Powell, an important cog in the Tallawahs’ batting machinery, is yet to get going this season.
Against the Patriots on Saturday he made only one to extend a string of low scores, but he stressed there is no need for alarm.
“To be honest, I’m not concerned. I think I am in pretty good nick, I just haven’t showed that on the pitch. We’re just getting to understand the type of surface we are [playing] on.
“We have to bat a lot of balls…they’re not the type of pitches where you normally score a half-century off 20 or 25 balls. That’s difficult here — you have to bat a lot of balls. It’s important now for me to come good at the back-end of the competition as we look to qualify for the play-offs,” he told the Observer.