The eighth edition of the Caribbean Premier League is set to begin on 28 August, thus marking the return of T20 cricket post the Covid-19 break. Rayad Emrit-led St Kitts and Nevis Patriots will begin their campaign against defending champions Barbados Tridents in the third game of the season. Replacing Antigua Hawksbills in 2015 entered the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. Having settled for the bottom place in their first two seasons, they bounced back to finish as runner-ups in the 2017 edition and have qualified for playoffs in the two subsequent editions of the league.

The Patriots signed the big names Chris Lynn, Sohail Tanvir, Rassie van der Dussen, Ish Sodhi and Denesh Ramdin. However, Dussen is set to miss the entire season due to traveling issues and New Zealand batsman Nick Kelly has been named as the replacement. Dennis Bulli and Sunny Sohal will also be unavailable for the season and wrist spinner Imran Khan and wicket-keeper batsman Jahmar Hamilton come in as replacements. The biggest setback for the Patriots is the fact the Fabian Allen will be absent for the season as he missed the flight to Trinidad.

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Squad:

Retained: Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen (Unavailable), Sheldon Cottrell, Rayad Emrit, Alzarri Joseph, Dominic Drakes.

Signed: Chris Lynn (Overseas), Rassie van der Dussen (Overseas) (Unavailable), Sohail Tanvir (Overseas), Ish Sodhi (Overseas), Denesh Ramdin.

Drafted: Ben Dunk (Overseas), Dennis Bulli (Unavailable), Joshua Da Silva, Colin Archibald, Jon-Russ Jagessar, Sunny Sohal (ICC Americas pick) (Unavailable).

Replacement: Nick Kelly (Overseas), Imran Khan, Jahmar Hamilton

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Fast bowling is the biggest strength for St Kitts and Nevis this season. They have one of the strongest fast bowling cores in the tournament; an attack which constitutes Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph, Rayad Emrit and Sohail Tanvir are some of the proven stars. Tanvir comes into the tournament after a very good PSL season. Cottrell and Joseph will be the main attacking options. The likes of Colin Archibald and Dominic Drakes are young and promising and are good backups.

Batting holds a decent, if not formidable, look despite Dussen and Allen missing out. Evin Lewis, Chris Lynn and Joshua Da Silva form the top 3, followed by Ben Dunk, Denesh Ramdin and Nick Kelly. Lynn and Lewis form one of the most fearsome opening pairs this season. Ben Dunk comes off with a terrific season in PSL under his belt. Joshua Da Silva is a promising young talent and can be banked upon to perform well if given opportunities. The skipper Rayad Emrit will need to bat at 7, considering the lack of quality batting resources. The backups aren’t very reliable, which makes it extremely important for the first choice batsmen to perform throughout the season.

Fabian Allen
Fabian Allen will be big miss for the Patriots, especially his big hitting in the middle order.

It is is possible that there will be a toss up between Jon-Russ Jagessar and Imran Khan for a slot in the XI. The overseas wrist spinner Ish Sodhi, who hasn’t been very impressive in T20s so far might also play ahead of the other two, if they pick Dominic Drakes instead of Nick Kelly in batting. However, despite the versatility, the spin attack does not hold an inspiring look, something which holds Patriots in a position of disadvantage as compared to other teams.

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Probable First Choice Playing XI:

Evin Lewis, Chris Lynn, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Ben Dunk, Denesh Ramdin, Nick Kelly/ Dominic Drakes, Rayad Emrit, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Khan/ Ish Sodhi, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell

Tournament Prediction:

The Patriots had a very good chance of making it to the play-offs this season, but with a couple of major players missing out, they are relatively weakened. A strong top order and an enviable fast bowling unit might hold them in good stead and they might just sneak in to the play-offs.