The Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which commences on 18 August, will mark the resumption of T20 league cricket post the Covid-19 break. Three-time champions Trinbago Knight Riders take on the runner-ups from last season Guyana Amazon Warriors in the first encounter of the CPL. All 6 teams have reached Trinidad and Tobago, where the entire season is going to be held.
With the final squads for all teams having been released after many shake-ups necessitated by various reasons, we take a look at one major area of weakness for each CPL side.
The defending CPL champions Barbados Tridents have suffered the most due to the unavailability of some of their overseas recruits. With Alex Hales, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Marcus Stoinis and Harry Gurney missing out, their CPL title defense is going to be an uphill task.
The Tridents have a weakened top 4, which comprises Shai hope, Johnson Charles, Shamarh Brooks and Corey Anderson.
While Charles is an reliable option, Hope and Brooks do not have good T20 credentials. One of them can play the anchor role but having both in the side does not augur well for a T20 side. Anderson has not played much cricket of late and will be rusty. The top order, therefore, is the weakest link for the defending CPL champions.
St Lucia Zouks
The Zouks have been one of the biggest under-achieving sides in CPL so far. The Daren Sammy-led side boasts of a decent squad and look set to reach the play-offs for the first time.
However, one of the major areas they need to focus on is their middle order. Number 4 to 7 will most likely be Kavem Hodge, Najibullah Zadran, Daren Sammy and Mohammad Nabi.
While Hodge has shown a lot of promise, he is inexperienced. The trio of Sammy, Nabi and Najibullah have experience on their side, but all three are boom-or-bust kind of players.
When on song, they can take on any attack, but are notoriously unreliable. Their hit-or-miss middle order might cost the Zouks and may end up extending their wait for a play-off spot.
Trinbago Knight Riders
With most bases covered, the three-time champions will be a little worried about the frontline pace bowling options. While Bravo is dependable at death, the other options are relatively easy to target.
U-19 pacer Jayden Seales is a good prospect but is yet to be tested at this level and same is the case for Anderson Phillip too. M Alis Khan does not have a promising record so far in CPL.
Moreover, the fact that Bravo has not been as effective at the death as he used to be, might be a huge concern for the Knight Riders. Overall, the pace department, specially death bowling, is the weakest link in the Knight Riders squad this CPL.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots have one of the most explosive opening pairs in Chris Lynn and Evin Lewis. Young Joshua Da Silva at 3 is promising. But the middle order that follows either lacks enough experience or does not have great T20 credentials.
Ben Dunk, Denesh Ramdin, Nick Kelly and Dominic Drakes are the major options they have for middle order. Ramdin has generally struggled with his strike rate and Drakes is too raw.
Though Dunk is coming off a good PSL season and Kelly did well in New Zealand's domestic tournament, the overall middle order does not inspire much confidence and clearly lags behind some of the other teams in this aspect.
Fabian Allen missing out is a big blow for the Patriots this CPL. Rayad Emrit coming at 7 also indicates lack of batting depth.
Guyana Amazon Warriors
Despite having one of the most promising batting lineups and a reliable spin attack, the runner-ups of CPL 2019 will have to deal with a relatively inexperienced pace attack.
Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd and Naveen-ul-Haq should form the pace unit. All three have been decent but none of them can be considered a go-to bowler for the skipper.
Moreover, this unit might be vulnerable at the death and leak too many runs against quality batsmen. The backups aren't very reliable either. Rutherford can bowl some cutters and might be effective in middle overs.
Odean Smith too lacks enough experience at this level. Guyana will therefore find it tough to defend totals if the existing attack gets exposed well at the death.
One of the sides with almost all bases covered, Jamaica Tallawahs look all set to break into the play-offs after a poor outing in 2019. However, there is one aspect which might turn out to be a hurdle for them.
A power-packed middle order constituting Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Asif Ali and Carlos Brathwaite can be extremely tough to contain if they get going. But one thing that the opposition captains can look to do is strangle them with quality spin, especially wrist spin.
While all of them are clean strikers of the ball and monstrous hitters, they are vulnerable against wrist spin. And a couple of spinners bowling well in tandem might see the middle order crumble.