Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Manchester Thunders captain, Brian Clarke, is expecting a tough encounter when his team meets defending champions University Dynamites in the opening round of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) Twenty20 tournament.
The match, which will be played at Melbourne Oval beginning at 1:30 p.m., will be the feature game of a double-header at the venue.
The opening match, which is slated to get under way at 9:30 a.m., will see the Danza Hyatt-led Spanish Town Titans going up against Kingston Hurricanes
"It should be a close contest as like us they have a good team," said Clarke.
"I am, however, looking forward to us coming out on top as we have a set of players who are focused and motivated to win the tournament."
The Thunders, who are being coached by Barry Barnes, will be hoping for standout performances from national players Krishmar Santokie, Jamie Merchant and Zeniffe Fowler.
The Gibbs Williams-conditioned Dynamites, meanwhile, will look to David Bernard Jr, Andrew Richardson, and captain Jon-Ross Campbell.
In the opening game, the Titans, in addition to Hyatt, are expected to depend a lot on West Indies player Andre Russell and Tamar Lambert, as well as young left-arm spinner Paul Harrison.
The Courtney Walsh-coached Hurrincanes for their part will look to Carlton Baugh Jr, captain Yannick Elliott, Andre McCarthy, and Sadiki Bolt.
"Our squad is a very good one, and we are looking to better our semi-final finish last year," said Titans coach Ephraim McLeod.
"It should be a tough tournament this year with all the six the teams having good players and having a good chance.
"But we are prepared, and our aim against Kingston is to make a winning start."
The day's third match will see Montego Bay Sixers, with Jermaine Blackwood and Jason Dawes, going up against Ocho Rios Chargers at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium.
The Charger, coached by Cleon Smith, will have in their line-up Xavier Marshall, batsman Rasheed Outar and wicketkeeper Aldane Thomas.
The month-long tournament, which is sponsored by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, will this year be played on a round-robin basis with the top franchise team at the end of the preliminary round advancing to the final.
The second- and third-place teams are then slated to play in a semi-final play-off to determine the other finalists.