'We can go all the way'
Captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara, believes that his team has what it takes to go all the way and win the Hero Motorcorp Caribbean Premier League Twenty20.
Speaking after the Tallawahs' commanding six wickets win over St Lucia Stars at Sabina Park on Friday night, Sangakkara said he was impressed by the drive and determination of his teammates.
He said that although several of last year's top players such as Chris Gayle, AndrÈ Russell, and Chadwick Walton were missing, the team has a never-say-die attitude, and coupled with results so far, it has emboldened them to do well.
Opener Gayle is with the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots; all-rounder Russell is serving an anti-doping code-violation ban; while wicketkeeper-batsman Walton was selected by the Guyana Amazon Warriors during the pre-season player draft.
"Having lost a few key players at the start of the season, a lot was required for us to challenge, and so far, so good,'' said Sangakkara.
"Our young batsmen have been coming to the party and stepping up, and our bowlers have been doing a fantastic job.
"It is just for us to continue to keep on improving and believing, and who knows, we could go all the way.''
A challenging 173
The Tallawahs were led to victory over St Lucia by Sangakkara, batsman AndrÈ McCarthy, left-arm pace bowler Krishmar Santokie, and left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin.
Sangakkara slammed a topscore of 74 not out as the Tallawahs, set a challenging 173 for victory off their allotted 20 overs, ended on 179 for four off 19 overs.
The experienced Sangakkara, who came to the crease with the Tallawahs at 27 for one in the third over, held the innings together while hitting nine fours and three sixes.
Andre McCarthy, with 36 runs off 32 balls, which included three sixes and a four, and 20- year-old South African Glenn Phillips, 21, were the next best scorers.
"I, basically, tried to keep focus on the present, take it ball by ball, and try to take advantage of the power-play overs,'' explained Sangakkara.
"I thought Glenn Phillips did very well for us, and Lendl Simmons, again with a partnership in the power-play overs.
"Then, there is Andre McCarthy, who has been outstanding for us this season. I thought he showed a lot of poise, which made it a lot easier for me."
Sangakkara also praised his bowlers.
"I thought we got to the winning stage mainly due to our bowlers, albeit we were let down in the field somewhat with our catching.
"Garey Mathurin was outstanding, as were Krishmar Santokie and Keswick Williams.
Left-arm spinner Mathurin claimed two for 26, while Santokie finished with two for 33 off his maximum.
The win, the Tallawahs' fifth in eight outings, maintained their third-place ranking in the six-team tournament.