Guyana thrive on hunger to win
Ramnaresh Sarwan, the captain of the Guyana Amazon Warriors, said his team's hunger to win the Caribbean Premier League was one of the main motivators during the semi-final against Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel.
"We knew we just needed to play smart cricket and perfect the basics," Ramnaresh Sarwan, the Guyana captain, said after the match. "We had the backing of a lot of the crowd and I think we were hungrier for the trophy. It's just two games to win and we're not feeling the pressure."
Guyana Amazon Warriors steamrolled to top of the league stage with five wins and two losses and Sarwan, while not in the best of form, managed to get some exciting cricket from his team-mates.
Sarwan's has not been a regular fixture in the West Indies ODI side and Guyana has another player in Denesh Ramdin who has struggled to cement a place in the side. The pair, however, have injected leaderships into the Guyana side. The motivation and confidence has drawn comparisons with leaders who may not be starring individually for their teams but who have beenable to assemble their squads in the right manner.
While Guyana have lacked the bigger stars, compared to the other teams, the players have flourished. Jamaican all-rounder Krishmar Santokie is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 16 wickets so far and Guyana has three batsmen among the top ten run-getters in the league - Lendl Simmons, Martin Guptill and James Franklin. Simmons has been one of the few consistent batsmen, regionally and internationally, while the New Zealanders have become fan favourites.
Santokie's 16 wickets have made a case for his selection in the West Indies T20 side. "I really felt like I should have been given a chance in the West Indies team before," Santokie said. "I would like a longer run and more so, a more steady run for the West Indies."
Guyana had a few changes to the side with Mohammad Hafeez returning for international duty and Guptill suffering an injury. However, their Sri Lankan signings, Lasith Malinga and Tillakaratne Dilshan had immediate success, playing important roles in the semi-final victory over T&T Red Steels.
Simmons, William Perkins and Sunil Narine, have all come to the fore as players who know the Queen's Park Oval pitch inside out. Narine's form seems to be peaking at the right time and, with Veerasammy Permaul performing as well, Guyana can limit batsmen looking to attack their bowling. Malinga and Narine aren't slouches with the bat, which lends depth to the Guyana batting line-up.
The team also has a strong reserve line-up. Coach Roger Harper is comfortable with the reach of his team and this can be gauged by the fact that Narsingh Deonarine, an anchor of the Guyana side, has been relegated to the bench. Even the explosive Trevon Griffith can't make the team as a consistent starter and it shows that Sarwan has potent options. Christopher Barnwell, also due for a big game, can prove to be a trump card for Guyana.
"We've got a good all-round squad and our bowlers can bat, while we have batters who can bowl. It's hard to replace Hafeez and Guptill but Malinga and Dilshan have showed in the semis that they can incite the fire we can use to win more games," Harper said.
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here