Ed Hawkins thinks Jamaica are about to find their feet in the Caribbean league, starting early Friday...
"In terms of results, Patriots should be favourites, not least because of the record chase they pulled off. But in terms of balance, not so much"
Jamaica Tallawahs v St kitts & nevis Patriots
Friday 20 September 01.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
The Jamaica Tallawahs were brought down to earth with a bump by the Guyana Amazon Warriors on Thursday. After recording their first win of the campaign they were desperate for back-to-back victories to prevent their record reading: 1-5.
But they shouldn't get too down. Guyana are by far the best team in the tournament and are untouchable, at the moment, for the Tallawahs. They must focus on scraping together enough wins to get themselves into the play-offs. The Patriots are the sort of team they will be more dangerous against.
Of course, they have lost to this lot, too. After posting a record first-innings score in the tournament against the Patriots earlier, they then conceded the record chase.
Their XI has better balance since then and the inclusion of Afghan spinner Zahir Khan makes them far more competitive. The best news is the return of Andre Russell after a head injury. He produced an excellent all-round display against the Warriors.
The Patriots have three wins in seven with two in two. And one of them was a monster win, downing the holders and previously unbeaten Trinbago Knight Riders.
Not to be sniffed at, that, even if they needed a Super Over to do it. They were thankful for Carlos Brathwaite producing another 'remember the name' effort - a 30-ball 64 as Trinbago failed to defend 216.
Patriots are at their best chasing it would seem fair to say given what they have done to Trinbago and Jamaica. Just as well as they have an XI which looks prone to conceding big totals. Their attack is one-paced and they are desperately short of a classy spinner.
In that win over Trinbago they bowled only two overs of spin (Mohammad Hafeez) and they went for 12. Fabian Allen was absent. It seems inconceivable that they can go deep into the competition without such a basic requirement for success in the format.
Reliable for runs
The first-innings scores in the last three tournaments (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second, most recent first) read: 218-1/140-2/267-1/170-2/149-2/157-1/208-1/172-2/178-1/175-2. Guyana's total last time out suggests we should park ideas that the pitch is slowing up.
Jamaica fair bet
The Tallawahs are [1.87] with the Patriots [2.0]. The market is struggling to split the pair.
In terms of results, Patriots should be favourites, not least because of the record chase they pulled off. But in terms of balance, not so much.
We're now inclined to think Jamaica have more appeal because, frankly, they can do more with the ball than the Patriots. A lot more. And Russell's return is such a huge boost for them.
When Jamaica had their one win - against the Zouks - we had a small interest. And we will do so again.
Glenn Phillips , the Kiwi hitter, shared honours with Russell against Guyana and he's not getting the respect he deserves for an opener at 7/2 with Sportsbook for top Jamaica bat. Chris Gayle is no fun these days, particularly at 15/8. Even if he did smash a century against his old team in the last meeting. We just can't stomach his unreliability in terms of temperament and are happy to pretend he doesn't exist.
For top Patriots bat, Devon Thomas is suffering from the same lack of respect as Phillips. At 4/1 he's too big. Remember that he opens the batting. Thomas is also 5/4 for over 23.5 runs.
Statistically, Sheldon Cottrell and Rayad Emrit are best for top Patriots bowler at 3/1 and 10/3 respectively. But both have looked powder-puff this tournament and we're not sure we want to rick hard-earned winning despite the prices being wrong.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l