The Caribbean Premier League returns for its sixth season and is scheduled to run from August 8 till September 16, 2018. Just like the previous edition, the tournament will feature six country-based franchises - Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, St Lucia Stars and Trinbago Knight Riders. Each team will play every other team twice in a double round-robin fashion before the knockout stage which will consist of two qualifiers, an eliminator and the final. The fixtures will be played across seven different countries including the United States of America where 3 of the 34 games are set to be played.
Read on for team previews, outright winner odds, betting tips and tournament predictions for CPL 2018....
Barbados Tridents are winners of the 2014 edition. They defeated Guyana Amazon Warriors by eight runs in the rain-affected final to claim their maiden CPL title. The following year, they finished runners-up after losing to Trinbago Knight Riders (the then Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel) by 20 runs in the final. The last couple of seasons, however, have been very disappointing for them finishing fifth each time. In the previous season, the Tridents could win just four out of their ten matches.
Jason Holder will lead Barbados Tridents in this year's CPL. The team has lost Bangladeshi allrounder Shakib al Hasan who is now unavailable for the entire season. Australia's Steven Smith, currently the world number one test batsman, has been included in the squad as replacement for Shakib. The Tridents have also roped in New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill and he is likely to open the batting with Dwayne Smith. This means that Hashim Amla will probably bat in the middle order.
This season, Barbados Tridents will rely mainly on the likes of Steven Smith, Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill and Dwayne Smith - their leading run-getter of the last season - to turn it on with the bat. Smith is coming off a good Global T20 Canada and he can be a big thorn in the opposition's flesh if not dismissed early on. Wahab Riaz was one of their best performers with the ball last time and he along with Shakib Al Hasan and Jason Holder are the bowlers to watch out for.
Jason Holder (c), Martin Guptill, Hashim Amla, Dwayne Smith, Nicholas Pooran, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Raymon Reifer, Ashley Nurse, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Tion Webster, Imran Khan, Shamar Springer, Sunny Sohal, Chemar Holder, Dominic Drakes, Steven Smith
Barbados Tridents are being offered at odds of 5.80 on Betfair and 6.50 on Betway to win the Caribbean Premier League 2018.
It has been on three occasions that the Guyana Amazon Warriors have gone so close to getting their hands on the coveted CPL trophy - in the 2013, 2014 and 2016 seasons when they ended runners-up each time. They are one of the most consistent teams in the tournament having qualified for the playoffs in each of the previous five editions. Last year, the Warriors finished fourth on the points table after the league stage with five wins and as many losses. They beat Jamaica Tallawahs convincingly in the eliminator but could not overcome Trinbago Knight Riders in the second qualifier.
Guyana Amazon Warriors have named Shoaib Malik as captain of the side for this CPL season. The Pakistani all-rounder previously represented Barbados Tridents in the tournament. The Warriors had earlier appointed former South African allrounder Johan Botha as head coach. In addition to Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, Luke Ronchi and Cameron Delport are some of the players that form a part of the team's overseas contingent.
Chadwick Walton topped the runs charts with 458 runs which included three half-centuries. Apart from him, Guyana Amazon Warriors will be counting on the likes of Luke Ronchi, Shoaib Malik and Jason Mohammed to deliver the goods with the bat this time. Bowling department will rely mainly on Rayad Emrit, Imran Tahir, Devendra Bishoo and Sohail Tanvir who was the tournament's leading wicket-taker in the last season. Emrit is third on the CPL's wickets charts with 85 wickets in 67 matches and he is expected to trouble the batsmen this year as well.
Shoaib Malik (c), Sohail Tanvir, Chadwick Walton, Cameron Delport, Rayad Emrit, Imran Tahir, Jason Mohammed, Luke Ronchi, Veerasammy Permaul, Roshon Primus, Shimron Hetmyer, Devendra Bishoo, Gajanand Singh, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Keemo Paul, Saurabh Netravalkar, Akshaya Persaud
Guyana Amazon Warriors are the underdogs amongst the bookmakers and are being offered at a high price of 6.40 on Betfair and 7 on Betway to win the CPL 2018.
Jamaica Tallawahs are one of the most successful teams of the Caribbean Premier League. They won the inaugural edition in 2013, defeating Guyana Amazon Warriors by seven wickets in the final at Trinidad and then beat them again in the 2016 final by nine wickets at Basseterre to clinch their second title. The Tallawahs have never even once failed to make it past the league stage. They won six out of ten league matches last year and finished third in the standings. However, their campaign was brought to an end with a five-wicket loss to Guyana Amazon Warriors in the eliminator.
Jamaica Tallawahs have named Andre Russell as captain of the side for this upcoming edition of the Caribbean Premier League. The West Indian allrounder who is coming off an impressive IPL had missed the last CPL season due to a one-year suspension for doping violation. The team has also signed Pakistani allrounder Shahid Afridi who last featured in the tournament in 2015 while representing St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
This year, Jamaica Tallawahs will depend largely on David Miller, Ross Taylor, Johnson Charles and big-hitter Andre Russell to score the big runs. Charles is among the top ten batsmen in the CPL and has hit 11 fifties in the tournament. Krishmar Santokie is currently the tournament's best bowler with 115 wickets in 72 matches and he is going to be one of the key men in the team's bowling attack. Kemar Roach, Samuel Badree and Imad Wasim will be the other major threats with the ball.
Andre Russell (c), Shahid Afridi, Imad Wasim, David Miller, Ross Taylor, Rovman Powell, Samuel Badree, Kemar Roach, Glenn Phillips, Andre McCarthy, Krishmar Santokie, Johnson Charles, Steven Taylor, Kennar Lewis, Steven Jacobs, Oshane Thomas, Kirstan Kallicharan, Elmore Hutchinson
Jamaica Tallawahs are currently set at odds of 4.40 on Betfair and 4.50 on Betway to win this sixth edition of the Caribbean Premier League.
St Kitts and Nevis Patriots made their first appearance in the CPL in the 2015 edition. They finished at the bottom of the points table in that season as well as in the following season. But after back-to-back disastrous seasons, the Patriots finally broke the shackles last year and came second in the standings after the league round with six wins and three defeats. They then went on to beat Trinbago Knight Riders by 38 runs in the first qualifier to set to up a re-match with them in the final which they ended up losing by three wickets to finish runners-up.
Chris Gayle will continue to lead St Kitts and Nevis Patriots this year as well. Tabraiz Shamsi is away on international duty and will not be available till the end of August. The team has named Anton Devcich as Shamsi's replacement. The New Zealand bowling allrounder had earlier represented Trinbago Knight Riders in the 2016 season. Ben Cutting, Mahmudullah and Sandeep Lamichhane are some of the foreign players in the squad.
Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis will probably open the batting for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots and the onus will be on them for taking the team off to a flyer. Both were amongst the tournament's leading run-scorers last year with 376 and 371 runs respectively. Allrounders Carlos Brathwaite and Ben Cutting can produce good performances for their side with both and ball. Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Sandeep Lamichhane and Graeme Cremer are the specialist bowlers in the squad. Cottrell was the most impressive bowler for the Patriots last time with 11 wickets in 6 matches.
Chris Gayle (c), Evin Lewis, Ben Cutting, Carlos Brathwaite, Mahmudullah, Tom Cooper, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King, Devon Thomas, Graeme Cremer, Fabian Allen, Shamarh Brooks, Sandeep Lamichhane, Jeremiah Louis, Alzarri Joseph, Ibrahim Khaleel, Javelle Glen, Anton Devcich, Tabraiz Shamsi
Betfair has St Kitts and Nevis Patriots at odds of 4.30 to win the CPL 2018 while Betway has them up at 5.
St Lucia Stars have not had much success so far in the Caribbean Premier League and they have managed to go through to the playoffs just once in the five seasons. 2016 is the most memorable season for them when they finished third on the points table. The Stars had a horrendous season last year when they failed to win a single game and were the first of all the teams in the competition to get knocked out. That was their worst performance in the history of the CPL and they will be hoping for a much better result this time.
Kieron Pollard has replaced Darren Sammy as skipper of the St Lucia Stars for this year's Caribbean Premier League. The team has signed Australian opening batsman David Warner as replacement for his fellow countryman D'Arcy Short who will now no longer be available due to his selection in the Australia A team for India's tour. The Stars have also signed New Zealand's Mark Chapman and Pakistani seam bowler Mohammad Sami as replacements for Hussain Talat and Rumman Raees respectively, both of whom will be unavailable for the entire season.
Lendl Simmons, David Warner, Andre Fletcher and Kieron Pollard are the big guns in St Lucia's batting line-up. Simmons with 17 half-centuries is the leading run-getter in the CPL and he could open the batting alongside Warner. Fletcher scored the most runs for the Stars last time while the addition of Pollard will boost the middle-order batting. Mitchell McClenaghan, Kesrick Williams, Dasun Shanaka and Mohammad Sami will be the main threats among the bowlers. Williams has 25 wickets in 15 T20 internationals and is likely to be more effective as he is playing in his home conditions.
Kieron Pollard (c), Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, Mohammad Sami, Andre Fletcher, Mitchell McClenaghan, Kesrick Williams, Niroshan Dickwella, Rahkeem Cornwall, Qais Ahmad, Kavem Hodge, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Dasun Shanaka, Christopher Lamont, Obed McCoy, Odean Smith, Jaskaran Malhotra, David Warner
St Lucia Stars are being offered at a high price of 5.80 on Betfair and 6.50 on Betway to win the Caribbean Premier League 2018.
Trinbago Knight Riders are the only other team to have won the tournament twice. In 2015, the two-time champions defeated Barbados Tridents by 20 runs in the final and then edged out St Kitts and Nevis Patriots by three wickets in last year's final. They have always advanced to the playoffs and are one of the strongest contenders for this year's title as well. In the previous season, the Knight Riders topped the league standings with eight wins from ten matches before going on to claim their second title.
Dwayne Bravo will lead Trinbago Knight Riders this year as well. Fast bowler Ronsford Beaton will miss the entire CPL 2018 as he is working on his bowling action that was earlier deemed as illegitimate by the ICC. The team has replaced him with USA paceman Ali Khan who has prior experience of playing in the tournament when he represented Guyana Amazon Warriors in 2016. South Africa's Junior Dala is away on international duty and has been replaced in the squad by Shannon Gabriel who is returning to the side after having played for them in 2014. The Knight Riders have also lost Pakistan's leg-spinner Shadab Khan for the entire tournament and have called up Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed as a like-for-like replacement.
Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Colin Munro and Darren Bravo form a formidable batting line-up. Munro was among the top five batsmen last year with 366 runs and McCullum was not too far behind him with 335 runs. Lynn is one of the world's most destructive batsmen and on his day he can single-handedly win matches for his side. Dwayne Bravo is the second-best bowler in the CPL with 105 wickets in 77 matches and he was also one of the leading wicket-takers in the last season. Apart from Bravo, the Knight Riders will also bank on the likes of Sunil Narine, Shannon Gabriel and Shadab Khan to do the job with the ball.
Dwayne Bravo (c), Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Brendon McCullum, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Colin Munro, Khary Pierre, Javon Searles, Kevon Cooper, Nikita Miller, Anderson Phillip, Hamza Tariq, Amir Jangoo, Shannon Gabriel, Fawad Ahmed, Ali Khan
Trinbago Knight Riders are the bookmakers' favorites to win the CPL 2018 at short odds of 3.45 on Betfair and 3.60 on Betway.
St Lucia Stars have made it to the playoffs just once in the previous five editions of the Caribbean Premier League. They have the poorest record among all the teams in the competition. St Kitts and Nevis Patriots failed to impress in the first two seasons but had a successful last season finishing runners-up. However, barring Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Carlos Brathwaite and Mahmudullah, there does not seem to be too much international quality in their side. So considering St Lucia's past performances and the current squad of the Patriots, we feel that neither side will be able to finish in the top four at the end of the league stage.
Jamaica Tallawahs and Trinbago Knight Riders are the most successful teams of the CPL with two title wins each. This year as well, the squads of both these sides are brimming with plenty of talent and they appear to be pretty evenly matched on paper. While both are strongly recruited and are very much capable of going the distance, we feel that the reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders will defend their title and lift the trophy for the third time.
Final Verdict: Back Trinbago Knight Riders to win the CPL 2018 at 3.45 on Betfair and 3.60 on Betway.