PREVIEW: Jamaica chasing fourth win
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Four-time defending champions Jamaica will be highly favoured to take a third straight win when they clash with struggling Leeward Islands at home in the third round of the Regional 4Day Championship starting Thursday.
The Jamaicans launched their campaign with an 81-run triumph over Windward Islands in their opening round before thrashing Barbados by 120 runs last weekend at Sabina Park.
They will return to the same venue this weekend in hunt of full points against an indifferent Leewards side that is bottom of the standings following two heavy defeats.
After a sound 234-run loss to Guyana in Dominica, they sank to a new low in Barbados last week, bowled out for 39 and 113 to lose by an innings and 15 runs to Combined Campuses and Colleges.
Jamaica, who are on top the standings on 24 points, will be eyeing the Leewards as easy prey especially if the visitors' apathetic form continues over the next few days.
The Leewards, however, will hope to revive their fortunes through their experienced players in Kieran Powell, Gavin Tonge, Anthony Martin and Devon Thomas, all of whom have played for West Indies.
In the 16 matches they have contested since the turn of the century, however, Jamaica have dominated, winning eight times and Leewards just twice.
The Jamaicans have won four of the last five matches between the two sides, with the Leewards breaking the sequence three years ago, when they landed a 28–run victory at Sabina.
Barbados meanwhile will look to claw their way back from their heavy defeat last weekend when they face archrivals Trinidad and Tobago at Kensington Oval.
After drawing a bye in the first round, Barbados were out of the blocks lamely and were undermined by left-arm spinner Nikita Miller who claimed a 10-wicket haul.
Selectors this week named an unchanged Barbados side for the contest while Trinidad and Tobago are still without key players in Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard who are playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, while fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is injured.
The hosts will be looking to exact revenge on T&T after losing to them in the semi-finals of Caribbean Twenty20 at the same venue only last month.
While Barbados hold a narrow edge with seven wins against T&T’s six in the 17 matches played since 2000, T&T have gained first innings points in three of the last four matches which all finished in stalemates.
Barbados last beat T&T five years ago at home at North Stars, when they won by three wickets, while T&T last beat the Barbadians here six years ago at Carlton, when they won by 125 runs.
T&T, who were idle in the last round, opened the tournament with a comprehensive win over CCC at the 3Ws Oval.
In the other match, substantive hosts Guyana will seek their first victory over CCC when that contest bowls off at Warner Park in St. Kitts.
Guyana have had mixed fortunes so far, beating Leewards in the opening round but then losing to Windward Islands by five wickets last week in Dominica.