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All but one

Haydn Gill

All but one

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TWELVE DOWN, 12 to go – and after the drama and excitement of the first half of the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament, the attention switches to Kensington Oval for the next six days with all but one team still in the hunt for championship glory.
Predicting the four semi-finalists seems to be a far tougher task than picking a winner for Thursday’s by-election in St John.
This is a race in which little separates the candidates who are vying for a seat on the plane to the Airtel Champions League in India later in the year.
At the halfway stage of the competition, three teams are on eight points and six have four points.
The only side without a chance of advancing are the Leeward Islands, who failed to take advantage of home soil at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua and crashed to three successive defeats.
As the action moves into the second half of the tournament, the standings reflect a far more competitive nature than the inaugural competition last July when the four semi-finalists were known by the time the games moved from Barbados to Trinidad.
Judging by the entertainment we were treated to on our screens through ESPN last week, we can expect similarly gripping stuff when the Kensington Oval leg gets going with a double-header this afternoon.
Six of the 12 matches in Antigua were cliffhangers. One was decided by a Super Over after the two teams played to a tie, another was won off the last ball, another with two balls left, another with four balls remaining and another was clinched by one run.
Fans could not have asked for anything sweeter.
The presence of two English counties appears to have spiced up the competition and even Canada, who failed to make an impression last year, have an upset win under their belts.
Today’s Group “A” matches feature Jamaica and Somerset at 4 p.m. and Windward Islands and Guyana at 8 p.m.
Both are critical games to all concerned.
Reigning champions Guyana embarrassingly lost their opening match to Jamaica by 50 runs, but have emerged as zone leaders after nail-biting wins against Somerset by one run and against Combined Campuses and Colleges by two wickets with two balls to spare. Jamaica, Windwards and Somerset each have one win against one defeat and none will want to slip up today.
Group “B” is almost as tight. It is headed by Trinidad and Tobago, the only team with a perfect record from their two matches.
Hampshire also have two victories but have played a match more than their challengers while both Barbados and Canada have a win and a loss.
Group “B” teams are in action tomorrow with Trinidad and Tobago facing Hampshire at 4 p.m. and Barbados meeting Canada at 8 p.m.
In addition to a trip to the lucrative Champions League, the teams also have the added incentive of vying for additional prize money.
The top prize of this year’s tournament is US$62 500 which represents a significant increase of US$37 500 from last season when the champions pocketed US$25 000.
Total prize money is almost US$125 000 which includes US$500 Star-Of-The-Match awards for each of the 24 games.

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