BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Following the completion of the first phase of the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, the focus now turns to Kensington Oval this week with the battle for places in the semi-finals fairly competitive among the top teams.
The Windward Islands in Group A and Barbados in Group B are the only unbeaten teams, both having played two matches to earn eight points.
Stung by an 11-run defeat against the Windwards in the very first match on January 9, defending champion Trinidad and Tobago rebounded with commanding wins over the Leeward Islands by 167 runs and seven wickets against the 2010 champion Guyana.
Trinidad & Tobago's last preliminary match is on January 19 against rock-bottom Canada, who have lost both of their matches. And now boasting the best net run rate in their group of +3.008, Denesh Ramdin's team would be favoured to book their place in the semi-finals.
Guyana, on four points, are unquestionably under some pressure to advance to the Final Four. They must win their remaining matches against Canada on January 17 and the Windward Islands on January 19, while seeking to significantly improve their net run rate. They will also hope that the Leewards can upset the Windwards in the second match of the double-header tomorrow.
Playing for pride
It will be the last match for the Leewards, who are on four points and like Canada, are playing for pride.
Barbados are now favoured to top Group B following their 62-run win over Jamaica on Saturday night, having also swiftly disposed of the Netherlands by 10 wickets.
Their remaining matches are against English County club Sussex on January 18 and Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) two days later.
Sussex and the Netherlands have both been disappointing and it should come down to Jamaica and CCC as the other contenders for a place in the semi-finals on January 21.
CCC, with one win and one defeat, are expected to wipe out the Netherlands on January 18 before their grudge match with Barbados on January 20 to bring the curtain down on the preliminaries.
Prior to that match, CCC should know what they need to do as Jamaica, who are on eight points but with a worrying net run rate of minus 0.113, would have played the Netherlands.
The third-place play-off and final are slated for January 22.