Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel face Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League at the St Kitts' Warner Park Cricket stadium in Basseterre on Friday.
Red Steel, on top of the points table, are outright favourites going into the game. Led by popular West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, they have been utterly dominant in their last few games. They have won six out of their seven games, and at this juncture, they look like the team to beat.
The Tridents, whose form has been patchy, will seek revenge for the earlier loss against Red Steel. They hold fourth position in the league now.
Inconsistency has dogged the Kieron Pollard-led Tridents this season. Furthermore, Pollard has not been his destructive self this tournament, barring one game. In their last game against Jamaica Tallawahs, they failed to chase 148.The Tridents could get to only 128 for the loss of six wickets, inspite of Pakistani import hammering Shoaib Malik 81 off 43 deliveries.
In an earlier game against Guyana Amazon Warriors, while chasing 174 - despite being in a good position - they could not go beyond 166 and ended up losing as Ronsford Beaton bowled a last over to remember. The fact that that they have not been able to finish games has hurt them.
Opener Dwayne Smith, with two hundreds to his name, looks in good touch. The team would love another ton from the explosive batsman. Malik has been in excellent touch right from the time he guided the Tridents home, when they chased a score in excess of 170 against Antigua Hawksbills early on in the tournament. He has batted with composure in the middle and, more often than not, has held the innings together.
A worrying factor is skipper Pollard's inconsistent form with the bat. Barring the game against St Lucia Zouks, he has been getting out early. If Pollard gets going, then the Tridents can pose a serious challenge to Red Steel.
Ravi Rampaul has been in good form amongst the bowlers; on two occasions he scalped four wickets, the last one being in the match against the Tallawahs. Rayad Emrit has supported him well in some games. The Tridents will hope these two come good on Friday.
Red Steel's form has been nothing short of imperious in the last few matches. Evin Lewis, the opener, has been terrific scoring three half-centuries in a row. If he gets going, the opposition has a huge score staring them in the face. His opening partner Kevin O' Brien has been dangerous too. Ross Taylor has been consistent; in the earlier match against the Tridents he scored 62, guiding his team to a win after they lost early wickets.
Pacers Shannon Gabriel and Kevon Cooper, who bagged three wickets each in their last encounter against the Zouks, have been in good form too. Spinner Samuel Badree has been economical. Red Steel will hope that charismatic skipper Dwayne Bravo will fire for them. He did well with the ball in the last game, scalping three wickets.
A triumph would give Barbados more confidence while Trinidad &Tobago would love to continue their winning streak - a good contest is on the cards.
Where to Watch Live
The game will start at 8 pm local time (5:30 am IST) with coverage on Sony Six in India. The match is available live online HERE. US viewers can catch the action on ESPN3, with the option to live stream HERE.