Hurricanes Looking To Exploit Benefits Of Home Turf

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The Leeward Islands Hurricanes will be looking to capitalize on the benefits of playing at home when they face Barbados Pride in the second semifinals of the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Regional Super50 here on Thursday.
Scheduled for the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) the Hurricanes, by virtue of finishing second in Group B, will face the winners of Group A while Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, who emerged Group A winners with a five-wicket victory over Hurricanes on Sunday, will play the Jamaica Scorpions in the first semifinals scheduled for Wednesday.
Coach of the Hurricanes, Reginald Benjamin, said his team will take a strategic approach to Thursday’s clash, utilizing what he calls familiar territory to their advantage.
“In the Four Day game that we played against them we noticed a lot of things and so in the One Day games, the same patterns have emerged so I think that going in with us firing on all cylinder, the areas they would score and the tactics they would use, we will counteract pretty well against them,” he said.
“Their bowling attack, I think our batsmen are very capable and again, we are playing at Coolidge and we should know that ground pretty much inside out so I think that all those things gives us an additional advantage,” he added.
With all to play on Sunday, Hurricanes chose the wrong time to turn in perhaps their worst performance of the tournament when they were dismissed for 189.
Captain Kieran Powell, with three centuries and two half-centuries in his last five innings, finally tasted failure for the first time when he was dismissed for one and it was left to rookie Jermaine Otto with 38 to carry the Hurricanes charge.
Wicketkeeper Jahmar Hamilton chipped in with 27 and Nkrumah Bonner, 23, but the always suspect Hurricanes batting failed to fire. They were well placed at 80 for two in the 23rd over but then lost their last eight wickets for 109 runs.
Benjamin dismissed the performance as nothing more than just a team being too relaxed knowing they were already through to the semis.
“I think subconsciously, some of the players already thought that we had made the semifinals and sometimes that happens in sports; and even from a coaching aspect it doesn’t matter how much you try to charge up the team and charge up players, deep within or subconsciously they say, we’ve made the semifinals so let’s just play this game and see what happens. But our focus would be Wednesday and Thursday,” he said.
The Antiguan assured however that the sub-regional squad will be fully prepared and ready for Thursday’s encounter.
“Shot selection and game awareness is one area that I think our batsmen especially and I don’t want to say middle order, but the lower order, their shot selection and game awareness, they need to be more conscious of that and rotate the strike more. There are just ways too many dot balls within the first 30 to 35 overs,” he said.
“Everybody should be firing on all cylinders come Friday. We are going to be playing our best team, we know we are playing against Barbados and I think that it also helps that they are coming to play on a wicket and a surface that we have played on so for us, it is an additional advantage,” he added.
Sunday’s Man-of-the-Match Ravi Rampaul was behind Hurricanes’, claiming three for 27 from his 10 overs while fellow speedster Shannon Gabriel picked up three for 41.
In reply, Red Force overcame a few stutters to reach their target in the 35th over, with opener Evin Lewis top-scoring with 47, while Imran Khan stroked an unbeaten 38, Jason Mohammed, 34, and captain Denesh Ramdin, 31 not out.
Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who finished with three for 40, caused the only real consternation in the Red Force run chase but those jitters were soon smoothed over.

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