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Kangaroos, Tigers in crucial clash
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
With two rounds of matches to go in the two-day Jamaica Super-Cricket League, it is anybody's guess as to who will walk away with the coveted trophy and the main prize of $1 million, or who will be demoted to the second tier Senior Cup next season.
Four teams, leaders Melbourne Kangaroos, in-form Manchester Lions, the Rawl Lewis-led Kingston Tigers and reigning champions St Catherine Saints, occupy the top of the standings and can win the title.
At the other end of the table, the fast-starting Trelawny Buccaneers, inconsistent St Elizabeth Warriors, Westmoreland Wizards and first-timers Hanover Dolphins are battling to stave off relegation.
In the feature matchup of the weekend, the Kangaroos, on 18 points, will host third-place Kingston Tigers (14) at Melbourne Oval in what should be a closely contested affair between two in-form teams, while at Chedwin Park the Lions, who are second on 17, will host the Buccaneers (8), who were last weekend clobbered outright by Melbourne in a rescheduled fixture.
The Warriors (8), in sixth position, will host fourth-place Saints (12) at Alpart, while bottom-of-the-table Dolphins (3) will journey to St Elizabeth Technical to face second-from-bottom Wizards (4).
Six points are awarded for an outright win; three for winning first innings in a drawn match, or a tie; two for winning first innings points but losing outright; and one for a no-result.
At Melbourne, the home team, with a fit and ready Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh Jr and Donovan Pagon, will seek to nullify the attempts of the Tigers' Lewis and hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman Chadwick Walton, who have both been operating at the top of their game since the start of the competition.
But if either team is to triumph, the other players will have to step up, with the Kangaroos depending on top wicket-taker, leg-spinner Damion Jacobs and batting all-rounder Yannick Elliot.
The Tigers will be banking on the outstanding left-arm orthodox spinner Paul Harrison and Barbadian off-spinning all-rounder Ashley Nurse.
"It should be a good game of cricket as both teams have ability. We are preparing to work and get the result needed to stay in the lead and ultimately win the league," said Melbourne's manager, Donald McNaughton.
Tiger's coach, Terrence Corke, sees the matchup as a virtual do-or-die situation.
"It's really crunch time. The gloves are off and it's no holding back. We need to pick up some points going into the final round against St Elizabeth and that is our intention," he said.