Clinical T&T defend Caribbean T20 title
Trinidad & Tobago put in a clinical performance against Jamaica in the final to win their second consecutive Caribbean T20 title, and once again qualify for the lucrative Champions League T20. Dwayne Bravo played a sensible innings to take T&T towards a decent total; Kieron Pollard, in one 26-run over, changed that from a decent total to a strong one; and then the miserly T&T spinners, along with Ravi Rampaul, choked Jamaica to make sure the victory was by a thumping margin.
Dwayne Bravo's innings was a crucial one, as it held together an innings that showed signs of falling apart. Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo had both been dismissed by the seventh over: Simmons was beaten in the flight by legspinner Odean Brown and edged to the keeper, and Darren Bravo also edged, while poking at an Andre Russell delivery.
Dwayne Bravo showed immediate intent by pulling Russell for four in the ninth over, but lost both Adrian Barath and Denesh Ramdin at the other end in quick succession. Barath was stumped, trying to loft Brown over long-off, and Ramdin, who replaced Daren Ganga as captain before the tournament, was bowled by a Brown flipper.
At that stage, T&T were 65 for 4 in 11.1 overs and in trouble. Dwayne Bravo reacted by lofting Brown for six and then hitting another six off Nikita Miller two overs later. He mixed caution and aggression, rotating the strike in between the big shots and was helped by the fact that Sunil Narine, at the other end, was scoring at a quick rate. Narine rushed to 22 off 15 balls, hitting two sixes, both heaves to the leg side off David Bernard's medium pace.
Pollard, who was later named Man of the Series, was initially happy to play second fiddle to Dwayne Bravo. He was dropped in the 18th over, by Marlon Samuels off Krishmar Santokie. It was the second catch Jamaica had dropped - Shawn Findlay put down a sitter to let Dwayne Bravo off the hook when he was on just 20 - and they would regret them both. Santokie, who should have had Pollard's wicket, was subjected to a mauling by him in the final over of the innings. The second ball was driven for four past cover, and the next three were bludgeoned for sixes: one over long-on, one over long-off and one to midwicket. By the end of it, Santokie, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, had gone for 42 from his four overs.
Chasing a big total, Jamaica had to get off to a quick start. Instead, they managed only five runs off the first two overs and lost a wicket in the most careless of manners in the third. Nkrumah Bonner, at the non-striker's end, wanted a single when Danza Hyatt played the ball to Pollard in the circle, and could not get back in time when Hyatt declined the run. The next over, bowled by Ravi Rampaul, was a maiden, and the required run-rate had already shot up above 10 runs per over.
Samuel Badree got rid of Marlon Samuels with a googly, he and Narine go through a few miserly overs, and when Dwayne Bravo had Hyatt caught in the deep in the eighth over, the match ended as a contest. Carlton Baugh played a few impressive strokes towards the end, including successive sixes off Rampaul to slightly spoil what would have been outstanding figures, but by that stage the required-rate had reached unachievable proportions.
The margin in the end was an emphatic 63 runs, giving T&T revenge for their loss to Jamaica in final of the Regional Super50 tournament in October last year, and reinforcing their reputation as the best Twenty20 side in the Caribbean.
"We have a great bunch of players in this team and a superb support staff and that is what did it for us. We are known as the Red Force and we showed we are a true force. We didn't get it right in the first match, the Windwards gave us a kick up the backside, but we came back as a good strong force against Leewards and against Guyana as we found our range," Denesh Ramdin said.
"After that it was smooth sailing because we know we have match-winners in all departments. We actually thought that Jamaica would have been stronger in the final but our bowlers did a fantastic job in the first six overs and that squeezed them. After that we knew we had the trophy in our hands."
In the third-place playoff, Windward Islands thumped Barbados by seven wickets, with 13 balls to spare. Barbados chose to bat and were dealt severe blows in the second over, as Delorn Johnson knocked over three of their top four to reduce them to 4 for 3. Jonathan Carter and Alcindo Holder attempted to rebuild the innings with a steady stand of 68 from just under 12 overs. However another collapse ensued after Holder was run out and Barbados were bowled out for 101.
Windward Islands lost Johnson Charles off the first ball of their chase, but Andre Fletcher and Devon Smith put them back on course with a 67-run partnership. After the pair was dismissed in quick succession, Miles Bascombe and Tade Carmichael steered them home without much drama.