The last time Trinidad and Tobago Red Force met the Guyana Jaguars at Providence, T&T were on the verge of winning the Regional Four-day title and Guyana were at the opposite end of the standings.
On that occasion, the Guyanese fought hard to hold Rayad Emrit’s team to a draw which allowed Barbados to retain their four-day crown.
This year, the tables have turned with T&T now hoping to cause an upset.
The Red Force are second from last on the six-team standings with 51 points and are out of the title race, while Guyana lead the table with 123 points, 23 more than defending champions Barbados Pride who have a tough game against third place Windward Islands Volcanoes at Warner Park in St Kitts.
With a maximum 20 points on offer per match, the Jaguars can clinch the title in the penultimate round of the competition, which bowls off today, if they beat the Red Force and the Pride are held to a draw by the Volcanoes.
T&T will be hoping to keep the Guyanese at bay with the return of pacer Shannon Gabriel, who will be a big boost to their bowling attack which is missing left-arm pacer Daniel St Clair who is recovering from a kidney infection.
Meanwhile, the Red Force opted to give promising young batsman Mark Deyal a chance.
They will be wary of the fact that leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo got career best figures of nine for 78 in a match haul of 15 for 149 at the same venue last year and that was against a much more experienced and settle Red Force lineup.
Veerasammy Permaul currently leads the list of wicket-takers with 56, while Bishoo is third with 44.
T&T’s Imran Khan is second with 46 and it could be a battle between the spinners over the next four days.
For T&T, off-spinner Bryan Charles, left-arm spinner Derone Davis and leg-spinner Yannic Cariah are the main options to back up Khan while Emrit and Marlon Richards are the other pacers making the trip.
However, the team’s batting will be more of a concern for Emrit who said he could be moving up the order, having opted to give the youngsters a chance earlier in the season.
Emrit has not lost faith in his team and believes the Red Force have the makings of what could be a champion team for the future.
“We are a young team and we are learning and hopefully over the next couple of years, if we stick with the same team, we are going to get the results that we want. It is not going to happen overnight, we accept that but I still think we are better than what we have been doing,” the T&T skipper explained.
T&T RED FORCE (from): Rayad Emrit (Captain), Yannic Cariah, Derone Davis, Mark Deyal, Shannon Gabriel, Steven Katwaroo, Imran Khan, Jason Mohammed, Kjorn Ottley, Yannick Ottley, Marlon Richards, Jeremy Solozano, Daniel St. Clair
GUYANA JAGUARS (from): Leon Johnson (Captain), Christopher Barnwell, Ronsford Beaton, Devendra Bishoo, Anthony Bramble, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Rajindra Chandrika, Narsingh Deonarine, Assad Fudadin, Keon Joseph, Veerasammy Permaul, Raymon Reifer, Vishaul Singh
WICB Professional Cricket League fixtures
Round 9—March 13 to 16
Barbados Pride vs Windwards Volcanoes, Kensington Oval
Leewards Hurricanes vs Jamaica Franchise, Warner Park
Guyana Jaguars vs T&T Red Force, Guyana National Stadium