The hunt for points is on in earnest as fourth-placed Jamaica Scorpions host fifth-placed Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Sabina Park as the Digicel Regional four-day competition enters the fourth round, starting 10:00 am today.
The Scorpions, who have 28.6 points, and the Red Force (27 points), both trail two-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars (33.6 points).
Second-placed Barbados Pride (33.4 points), third-placed Leeward Islands Hurricanes (29.4) and cellar team Windward Islands Volcanoes are the other franchises (17.6).
Scorpions Captain Nikita Miller says the key to victory will be for the batting unit, which has struggled so far this season, to combine for a substantial first-innings total.
“We need to bat well in the first innings and set up the game. If we can get a very good score on the board that will put us in a very good position to win the game. I also believe we have to field well because Jamaica is a good bowling team so we also have to take our chances.”
Rovman Powell, the exciting Jamaican batting all-rounder, and left-hander Paul Palmer are included in the Scorpions’ 13-man squad at the expense of another left-hander Trevon Griffith and wicketkeeper batsman Chadwick Walton.
Devon Thomas is expected to take up glove duties.
Jamaican-born left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell is part of the Trinidad & Tobago franchise, but Miller played down any added intrigue his inclusion could bring to the clash.
“I don’t see him on the other side adding any extra [excitement]. We’ll treat it as just as another game against a very good team and hopefully we can settle down and do what is required,” he said.
Though the Scorpions were beaten at Sabina Park by the Red Force last season, Miller appeared unfazed.
“It’s a new season and new teams; both of us have new additions. It’s just another game at home that we are looking to win and we need to set up the game whether we bowl first or bat first,” he explained.
Both teams had to share points in Round Three after rain wreaked havoc in their respective matches. The Scorpions drew with the Pride in Kingston in a severely rain-affected encounter, while wet weather also ruined the Red Force’s game against the Hurricanes in Port of Spain.
Roland Sampath, the Red Force manager, said the fourth round will be particularly crucial for all teams.
“This round is a crucial game for all the teams and we are looking forward to a good game of cricket and looking to come out on top. There a just a few points separating each and we are still not halfway there. Trinidad & Tobago are looking to win this game and win the tournament,” he told the Observer ahead of yesterday’s practice at Sabina Park.
“We’re really looking forward to this game, having beaten Jamaica here last year. We like to come to play against Jamaica and we like being in Jamaica. With the last round rained out we’re looking forward to getting some much needed points here,” Sampath added.
The Red Force manager said Cottrell has been an integral member of the franchise.
“He lends a lot to our team and our guys look up to him as a West Indies player. He’s settled in quite nicely, you’d swear he is a Trini, and I think he is looking to give a good performance.”
In other games scheduled to begin tomorrow, Windward Islands Volcanoes entertain Leeward Islands Hurricanes and Guyana Jaguars welcome Barbados Pride.