By Neto Baptiste
Tension continues to mount as the four top teams coming out of the preliminary round of the State Insurance Corporation Super 40 Cricket Competition, get set to battle in the semifinals set for Saturday and Sunday.
Defending champions Anderson E Carty Empire Nation will travel to Jennings where they face the hosts on Sunday while on Saturday, chat toppers CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles will host the New Winthorpes Lions.
Coach of the Empire team and former national player Ian Tittle is banking on their batting to carry his team into the finals, especially after having scored over 300 in their last outing against Rising Sun Spartans.
“The weekend before we didn’t do bad and last weekend we made 320, but I honestly thought we should have made around 360 but we dropped off a bit. Scott has been batting well for the whole season and I was happy that he scored the 151, but as I always say you could score 150 then you could go on to score even 200. The problem we are having still is the extras where we bowled around 39 extras, so we need to clean up that,” he said.
Jennings, looking to get to their first final, are hoping to throw the champions off course and, according to coach, Glen Miller, his players are focused on doing what is right to get past their next opponents.
“Once you reach this point it is win or stay home, so we will continue to do what we have been doing all season. We’re preparing, we’re getting ourselves ready and we’re going to work hard and try our best to win one game; it’s about one game right now,” he said.
Unbeaten until their final preliminary round contest when they were beaten by All Saints Pythons, captain of favourites Bethesda Golden Eagles, Deran Benta, believes they will be unbeaten at home.
“Yes, it was at the back of our mind because when we were 4-0 [four wins and no losses] I told them that I would like to play our semifinals at home because anybody coming up there getting licks,” the national player said.
Meanwhile, despite having a lukewarm season thus far, New Winthorpes Lions have proven they have the ability to beat any team in the completion on any given day.
Former West Indies batsman Sylvester Joseph believes his team will be a handful once they get going on a normally batting friendly pitch.
“We know that in Bethesda, as long as all of the conditions are good that they have a very good batting pitch, so I think that if our bowling can hold its own, and the fielding, that it is up to our batters — which I still believe is our strong point — I think that we can do well,” the former West Indies captain said.
The Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) announced on Monday that matches in the semifinals will start at 9:30 am due to the recent change in the curfew hours.