“It’s time now to start the Biggest Party” – Malik
Hero CPL 2018 at Providence…team poised ahead of opener at ProvidenceBy Clifton RossA smiling Guyana Amazon Warriors Captain Shoaib Malik said it was time to get the party started as the home team opened their 2018 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign against the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, today, Thursday August 9 at Providence.After months of building excitement, franchises from around the Caribbean are beginning to lock horns in the sixth edition of the T20 extravaganza. During Wednesday’s pre-match press conference at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, Guyana Amazon Warriors Head Coach Johan Botha and skipper Malik, along with Patriots Coach Donovan Miller and skipper Carlos Brathwaite spoke on the moods in the respective camps ahead of match night.Botha, speaking on the local team’s training sessions which commenced last week, said he was happy with Guyana’s training. Botha, a former South African skipper, said that it was ample time to put together all they have been working on and execute well so they can get off to a great start at home.“It’s gone really well so far; yesterday, we had our full squad on deck and that was nice; everyone has had a good hit out and got used to conditions, especially the heat. We are just looking forward to the real stuff now,” said Botha.The Guyana Warriors’ star players in both departments looked to be in good form following their returns in the two recently-concluded practice matches at Providence under lights. Malik – along with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Luke Ronchi – and spinners Devendra Bishoo, Chris Green, Imran Tahir and Veerasammy Permaul all bowled well with wickets to their name.The Warriors Captain as a result believes that his team’s practice games will be very crucial to the outcome over the next few days in Guyana. “The preparations were going well; we did a lot of hard sessions; now it’s time to show up; it is the responsibility of the seniors who played here and the local guys. In franchise cricket, if your local players do well, you end up with a right result, so it’s time to start the Biggest Party and it’s good to start from our home conditions.”The veteran Pakistani batsman was adamant that the Warriors could click in a major way as a unit, given their cohesiveness and familiarity with the conditions and each other. Malik, who hasn’t played at the venue in nearly five years, said that he was still backing a positive result from his side that were keen on winning all three of their home games before going on the road.“I think it’s the bowlers’ responsibility to win games; if you’re playing on a good pitch and score 170, 180, it’s the bowlers’ responsibility to take wickets, so taking wickets is the key. There’s no pressure at all, I expect the same thing from our players. Obviously, you want to start well if you go deep in the tournament, but there’s no pressure, it’s just about going out and giving it your best shot,” Malik added.Patriots skipper Brathwaite, who is also the Windies T20 skipper, however, said that his camp were not banking on their big gun in “T20 Boss” Chris Gayle as they seek to fully utilise the vast talent in the side.“I never played a CPL game in Guyana, but traditionally the Guyanese wicket is slow and tends to turn, so we have to adapt to that, because we have some good spinners in Hayden Walsh Jr and Lamichhane (Sandeep), so at the end of the day is who plays best,”The all-rounder, who has been around since the first CPL, has never played a game at Providence and as such deemed the opener as “uncharted” turf for him but is confident of a good showing. “It’s all about the team coming together, we are stacked with quality player if they can replicate the season they had last year and new players put their hands up and fill the voids and hopefully get us over the line,” he said.Coach Miller, meanwhile, said he was satisfied with his team’s training over the past few days; he further added that the confidence level was soaring in the camp as players know the importance of getting off to a winning start, especially away from home.Last season, the Patriots gained a 2-0 victory over the Warriors when the two sides met with Gayle and Warriors opener Chadwick Walton among the top scorers while Warriors seamers Sohail Tanvir and Rayad Emrit had good games for their team.The Providence National Stadium will come alive when the Warriors get their title hunt on the road while their opponents, led by Gayle, will want to show their class away from home when the first ball is expected to be delivered by 18:00h. The match will also be broadcast one hour later (19:00h).