History beckons for both hosts Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and Leeward Islands Hurricanes in the final of the West Indies Super50 Cup on Saturday for the Clive Lloyd Trophy.
The two sides reached the final to be played at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy with lopsided wins in the semi-finals at the same venue, where Red Force crushed Guyana Harpy Eagles by six wickets on Wednesday, and Hurricanes brushed aside Barbados Pride by 155 runs on Thursday.
Red Force and Hurricanes were the two most efficient sides in the tournament, finishing in the top two positions in the standings after the preliminary matches, and being the only two sides to accumulate more than 40 points.
For Red Force, they will hope that home advantage will breed success and hand them an unprecedented 14th Super50 title.
“We have been playing pretty good cricket thus far, and it’s just one more game to go, so it will just be a matter of us going out there and basically executing our game plans to the best of our ability, and hopefully we will be able to cross that line,” Red Force captain Darren Bravo said.
“Trinidadians are generally happy people, so it is important for us to have fun, but most importantly play the game as seriously as possible. We have been doing that. Each and every time we have a discussion as a team, we try to identify where we went wrong [and] we try to highlight where we did well.”
Bravo is second in the batting aggregates with 376 runs at an average of 94 from seven innings, and opener Kjorn Ottley is third with 294 runs at an average of 49 from seven innings.
In the bowling department, Yannic Cariah is tied with Hayden Walsh Jr of Hurricanes for the most wickets of 18 at 14.33 apiece in six matches, and retiring off-spinner Sunil Narine has 17 wickets at 9.70 each in seven matches.
“We know as a team, there is always room for improvement in each and every single game, so all in all, it’s just about us believing as much as possible, continue supporting each other as much as possible, that has been working, and with one more game to go, we can continue in same vein,” Bravo added.
“It’s always good to win tournaments, especially when you are representing your country. It’s always good to give the people something to smile about. I hope we have a big crowd, and it will be really happy for us if we are to cross the line.”
For four-time champions Hurricanes, it is their 14th trip to final, but they have come away empty-handed from the last five, including three years ago when West Indies Emerging Players upset them by 205 runs.
They have not had title success since the side led by Wilden Cornwall, now their assistant coach, played to a dramatic tie with Barbados Pride 13 years ago and their last solo title was 26 years ago when they beat Guyana by 30 runs.
“It’s really going to mean a lot (to win) because it’s been 13 years since Leewards have won a Super50 title,” their captain and West Indies fast bowler Alzarri Joseph said. “It’s for us to know and understand what is at stake here. It will really mean a lot for us and everyone back home, and we have got a lot of support, so we have to go out and play good cricket again.”
Coincidentally, Hurricanes have the top batsman and top bowler in the tournament this year with imported Barbadian all-rounder Justin Greaves and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr occupying those positions.
Greaves has 391 runs at an average of 97.75 from six innings, and Walsh – like Cariah – has taken 18 wickets at a stingy average of 12.77.
“One thing I must say about this team is we don’t depend on any one player to do anything,” Joseph said.
“It’s an all-round team performance in most games. If someone does not show up, someone else picks up the mantle and does it, so it’s really good when the team is playing this well.”
Recent history favours Red Force after they won the preliminary match between the two sides by three wickets in a tense finish on October 26, and past results are heavily weighted towards them having won 17 of their 28 previous matchups. (CMC)