Ed Hawkins previews a potential thriller from Port of Spain early on Saturday between the Caribbean Premier League's two big boys...
"In-running we'll be looking to get with Jamaica at odds-against purely because of the game changers they have in their ranks"
Trinbago Knight Riders v Jamaica Tallawahs
Saturday 7 September 01.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Trinbago Knight Riders continued from where they left off by beating St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in their opener. The champions were impressive as three new boys stepped up to the plate to bag them the points.
Jimmy Neesham and Kieron Pollard combined with the bat after Trinbago had found themselves in a spot of bother. Lendl Simmons, Sunil Narine and Tion Webster were all back in the hutch with only 20 on the board. But Neesham's 30-ball 33 and Pollard's 32-ball 47 changed the complexion.
The rapid Muhammad Hasnain then reminded us why he is so highly-rated by Pakistan with three wickets. Neesham matched him and picked up the match gong. With Colin Munro (away with New Zealand), Ali Jhan (injured), Darren Bravo (injured) and Dwayne Bravo (injured) absent, Trinbago will be a cock-a-hoop.
It will be interesting to see how long Trinbago persist with Narine as opener. It's a ploy we were never that wowed by in the Indian Premier League. Dinesh Ramdin is a capable opener and it would also allow Neesham and Pollard to each move up a spot for maximum damage.
This lot are bristling with pure batting power. Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton and Glenn Phillips are explosive with the bat. Maybe even Chris Gayle if he is in the mood.
But as we said in our team-by-team guide, we're a little concerned about their bowling unit. They seem reliant on Oshane Thomas, who is potent, and to that end they made a late swoop to bring in Jerome Taylor. We would prefer them for an outright gamble if they boasted a big-returning interna-tional spinner. But they don't. George Worker is, well, workaday and Afghanistan's Zahir Khan an emerging talent.
Gayle will probably set the tone. He's unreliable these days in terms of we just don't know whether he will look to hit it or block it. He turned in two abject batting efforts against India in the recent ODI series before finally finding motivation in the third. Statistcally, Gayle is on the wane and he's in the red on analysis which these days show players' net worth.
The last 11 first-innings scores at the Queen's Park Oval (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 157-1/180-1/170-1/203-1/223-2/195-1/118-2/147-2/156-2/152-2/158-2. That's an average of 168. It seems a fair wicket between bat and ball and some assistance for the spinners.
Too close to call/h2>
The match odds money is struggling to find a favourite with Trinbago [1.91] and Jamaica [1.98]. That's a shame as we were hoping Trinbago's more consistent record and home advantage would be the decisive factors.
But it's understandable that unavailable players are having an impact. And we should never underestimate the pull of the likes of Russell and, rightly or wrongly, Gayle.
In-running we'll be looking to get with Jamaica at odds-against purely because of the game changers they have in their ranks. In a chase 15 an over is breezy for someone like Russell so don't be too quick to write them off.
Hasnain a bet/h2>
Gayle will be well backed for top Jamaica bat at 15/8 with Sportsbook. Value? Well, he has a hit rate of 36% in the last two years in this competition so there's a small margin in the punters' favour. But we're also aware that on career franchise form he's more like a 5/2 shot. We had a nice winner on Kieron Pollard at 7s in game one. The 5/1 is still value as he should be shorter.
Sunil Narine goes off at 7/2 for top Trinbago bowler. But in 2018 he didn't win once in 12 attempts, compared to a 38% hit rate the previous edition. With 10/3 jolly Khan not expected to start, that lets in Hasnain for a wager. He has a whopping 40% win rate in his fledgling career. The 7/2 is worth a nibble, then. We're also gambling on Thomas for Jamaica at 10/3. We have him clear favourite.
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