CPL 2017 August 5, 2017

'Can't wait to watch Rashid bowl' - Guptill

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'This year's a clean slate for Guyana' - Guptill

Ahead of Guyana Amazon Warriors' first training session in Florida prior to their season-opening match against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, a reunion of sorts took place in front of the pavilion. Star legspinner Rashid Khan was in the middle or being interviewed when his Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody appeared behind the camera.

The two embraced and spent a few minutes catching up before Amazon Warriors captain Martin Guptill appeared. As Guptill entered the conversation, Moody jokingly offered a piece of friendly advice. "When the s*** hits the fan, just give this guy the ball and he'll sort everything out."

As Rashid chuckled, Guptill replied, "Mate, I can't wait to give him the ball as early I can every game."

Such is the excitement with the arrival of Rashid, one of the CPL's first two Afghanistan players along with Patriots allrounder Mohammad Nabi, Guptill is one of many with high expectations from Rashid to help them not only reach the CPL final for a fourth time, but actually win it in 2017.

"Everyone talks about how we've been in three finals and lost three finals but at the end of the day that's cricket," Guptill told ESPNcricinfo in Lauderhill. "You're not gonna win every game you play. We played some pretty incredible cricket up to that and unfortunately we played our worst game in the final."

Along with Guptill, the highly anticipated arrival of Rashid is expected to play a major role in the team's fortunes. Aside from his exploits with Sunrisers in the spring, he began his summer with a sensational tour of the West Indies, which included 7 for 18 in the opening ODI win in St Lucia.

"The squad looks a little different to last year but we've got some pretty exciting young cricketers coming," Guptill said. "Rashid Khan, you know what he did in the IPL this year and what he's done for Afghanistan. It's extremely exciting and I can't wait to watch the likes of him get the ball in hand and see what he can do in a couple of days' time."

Aside from Rashid, who replaces Guyana's leading wicket-taker from 2016 in Adam Zampa, several other changes have happened on the batting side. The biggest is the injury blow to Chris Lynn, the CPL's leading scorer from last year who was ruled out due to upcoming shoulder surgery. Chadwick Walton is expected to take over in the opening slot alongside Guptill while Babar Azam has arrived as Lynn's replacement. Another who may be a big-hitting X-factor is the American Steven Taylor, who has come over after two years with Barbados Tridents.

"I opened the batting a couple of times with Chadwick [in Guyana]. He didn't score too many runs but we started to get a little bit of an understanding of how each other bats, the running between the wickets and the communication and things. That's going to come pretty quickly in a couple of days time, I'm hoping anyway. Chaddy's got a great cricket brain on him, the way he thinks about the game and the way he communicates with other players is exciting for us.

"Steven Taylor I think got 60-odd in one game down there and batted extremely well on a tough wicket. I was impressed with watching him play and I think it was the first time I'd seen him bat so it was pretty exciting and you know he's going to get some decent opportunities in this tournament I think. The way he strikes the ball is pretty incredible. To do all the training he needs to with probably less facilities than other countries around the world is pretty awesome and I'm excited to see how he goes in this tournament."

Guptill also picked out Jason Mohammed as a key middle-order contributor and said that if the new arrivals can find chemistry and gel with the established core, which includes opening bowler Sohail Tanvir, he was positive about the team's chances.

"If we get the chance again to play in the final, it's just about seizing the moment and seizing the opportunity and just enjoying it," Guptill said. "It was hard to watch the final last year from afar but it's a completely different year this year and I'm sure we can go all the way."

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna

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