With just seven points separating the teams, the race for the Headley/Weekes Trophy; the symbol of regional first-class supremacy, which has now become a two-team affair between reigning champions Guyana Jaguars (130 points) and contenders Barbados Pride (123 points) will culminate over the next few days starting today.
Jaguars hold a s lim lead over the second place Barbados Pride and will need an outright win to secure their title
Jaguars will certainly have the edge as they return to their most prosperous hunting ground, having won all their home matches convincingly this season and will need to put in a strong performance to retain the title.
In the last match against Leeward Island Hurricanes, their batting certainly was the weak link as only captain Leon Johnson passed fifty. Again, Johnson who is the leading runs scorer in the tournament to date with 714 runs at an average of 54.92 and closely followed by his teammate Vishaul Singh (690 runs at average of 53.02) will have to solidify the middle order, especially in the absence of the experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul who is out injured.
The return of West Indies Under-19 Captain Shimron Hetmyer could pose a quandary for selectors as they can look to the explosiveness and youth of Hetmyer or the experience of Test opener Rajendra Chandrika who has not been in the best of form of late, for this must win match.
Despite not playing the last three matches, left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie is still the Jaguars leading wicket taker with 36 scalps while fellow left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul has 33.
With all-rounder Steven Jacobs returning from injury, the toss up could be between the two players but Motie could hold the edge since he picked up a match winning six-for against the Scorpions when the two teams meet at Sabina Park, adding to that, the Stadium pitch is a dietary for slow bowlers.
With Ransford Beaton out of this match due to injury, and more feasible option could be to play all four spinners, in Devendra Bishoo, Permaul, Jacobs and Motie and having all-rounders Christopher Barnwell and Raymon Reifer provide the seam bowling options on a pitch that judging from its history will be flat.
For the third-placed Scorpions (82 points), left-arm spinner Nikita Miller will be a key man with the ball, as the former West Indies player leads the charts with 65 wickets from his nine matches this season.
Left-handed John Campbell has been a steady performer with both bat and ball for the scorpions throughout the season, racking up 572 runs and picking up 20 wickets with his off-spin. He enters this match in good touch, having made scores of 135 and 83 in his last match against the Windward Islands Volcanoes.
The last time these two sides meet this season, it was a low scoring encounter at Sabina Park, Jamaica, which the Jaguars won by 117 runs.
JAGUARS (from): Leon Johnson (captain), Christopher Barnwell, Devendra Bishoo, Anthony Bramble, Rajendra Chandrika, Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Shimron Hetmyer, Steven Jacobs, Keon Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Veerasammy Permaul, Raymon Reifer, Vishaul Singh.
SCORPIONS (from): Paul Palmer (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Gavon Brown, John Campbell, Jason Dawes, Kirk Edwards, Nicholson Gordon, Trevon Griffith, Damion Jacobs, Andre McCarthy, Nikita Miller, Aldaine Thomas, Devon Thomas, Shacaya Thomas.
The other final round matches will see Leeward Islands Hurricanes v Barbados at Basseterre, St. Kitts while Trinidad & Tobago Red Force play at home to Windward Islands Hurricanes. Match starts at 10:00 hrs.