Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica and Guyana will seek to strengthen their hopes of advancing to at least the play-off of the Caribbean Twenty20 cricket tournament, when they meet in the first match at Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia today at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. Jamaica time).
The day's other match-up will see hosts Windward Islands, with Darren Sammy, Devon Smith and Johnson Charles, looking to spring a surprise against favourites Trinidad and Tobago, who have in their line-up Dwyane Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Jamaica time).
Both games can be viewed on ESPN.
Second and fifth in the standings on nine and eight points, respectively, Jamaica and Guyana will be hunting a positive result as they seek to finish in the top three at the end of the first stage of the tournament. Trinidad and Tobago lead with 13 points, while the Windwards and Barbados also have eight.
The top team at the end of the preliminary round will book a ticket automatically to the final on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams will enter a play-off on Saturday to decide the other finalist.
"It should be a very good game as Guyana have really good players," said Jamaica captain, Tamar Lambert, who along with other members of the team travelled from Trinidad to St Lucia on Sunday.
"When you look at Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, these are players that can win a match at any given time. They also have (Narsingh) Deonarine and (Devendra) Bishoo," Lambert pointed out.
"But we have good players too, with senior players Andre Russell, Danza Hyatt, David Bernard Jr and myself doing fairly well in our last two matches and once we continue to work hard I am confident we can win."
The Jamaicans also have the competition's leading wicket-taker, Krishmar Santokie.
Jamaica, which have never won the tournament, are fielding one of their weakest squads (on paper) in years and have been far from impressive.
However, thanks to close wins over the Windward and Leeward Islands, and a rained-out no-result match against Trinidad and Tobago, they remain in the mix for a play-off spot.
Guyana, who won the inaugural tournament in 2010, started well with victories over the Leewards and the Combined Campuses and Colleges, but fell to a huge 80-run loss to Trinidad and Tobago in their third match at the weekend.
According to Lambert, the pitch at Beausejour Stadium could favour batsmen more than Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad.
"The pitch is usually good for batting and if it is the case heading into the match, it will give our batsmen a lot of confidence to play their shots, unlike the pitches in Trinidad, which were on the slow side and tended to favour bowlers," he said.