New Delhi: The eighth edition of the Caribbean Premier League got underway on 18 August with Trinbago Knight Riders beating Guyana Amazon Warriors by four wickets. As is the case with all sporting activities that have resumed post coronavirus pandemic, CPL is being played in empty stadiums in a bio-secure environment.
Only two grounds in Trinidad - Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba and Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain - are hosting the league, which means significantly used pitches and a greater onus on slower bowlers.
For this reason, St Lucia Zouks' skipper Daren Sammy believes that spin will play a big role in the ongoing edition of the league. Zouks went down to Jamaica Tallawahs by five wickets in their tournament opener on Wednesday.
"Since the matches will be played on two grounds only, I expect a lot more wear and tear of the pitch, which means spinners will have a greater role to play in this year's CPL. I am quite happy at the assortment of spinners we have at our disposal. We have Zahir Khan from Afghanistan, who is very promising. Then, there's Mohammad Nabi who is world-class. We also have Rahkeem Cornwall and Roston Chase, both of whom are very good spinners. So overall, we have a wholesome and a very potent spin attack," Sammy told journalists in a virtual press interaction.
Against Tallawahs, Sammy fielded a three-pronged spin attack featuring the Afghani duo of Zahir and Nabi along with Cornwall. Only Zahir was given his full quota of overs though, while Nabi and Cornwall bowled two and one overs respectively.
The combined figures of Zouks' spinners read 7-0-58-1, with Cornwall being the solitary wicket-taker. This, while bowling second on a used pitch, was at odds with what Sammy had indicated before the match.
By contrast, Tallawahs' spin trio of Sandeep Lamichhane, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Veerasammy Permaul was far more effective, returning with figures of 11-0-82-5. Zouks' spinners were not only under-bowled, but they were also less economical and had little to show in the wickets' column.
Sammy, perhaps preempting his fate, had mentioned the need to bat well against the slower bowlers, in addition to bowling it.
"The key will be the ability of our batsmen to play quality spin. The team that adapts quickly to playing spin will end up winning the tournament," he had said.
Zouks' coach Andy Flower too believes that the role of spinners cannot be understated in the league, given the nature of wickets on offer.
"Both the pitches on which the CPL 2020 is being played are known to offer turn. Even if the pitches are a bit damp or sticky, we expect them to spin. We expect spinners to play a big part in this tournament," he said.
Zouks have never reached the playoffs stage in the league, and Sammy, with his vast T20 experience at the international and franchise level, believes that the team has enough quality to make it to the knockouts stage this time.
"It is a whole new set up, different management and different methods this year. As captain, my aim is to ensure we play the way we want to. Our realistic goal is to reach the playoffs first, and we can do so only by executing our plans and seizing key moments in the game.
"T20 games are a lot about absorbing the pressure that the opposition is applying on you. We intend to do that, as well as put the pressure back on them. All in all, we want to stick to our plans and execute them to perfection. Everyone plays to win, and I am no different, but to achieve that result, we need to adhere to a process. Once we reach the playoffs, it is anybody's game. We would like to take it on a match-to-match basis," he said.
Zouks take on Barbados Tridents in their second game tonight, a team against whom they have lost two of their last three matches; Zouks' last win over Tridents came almost two years back.
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