Cape Cobras v Trinidad & Tobago, CLT20, Chennai October 4, 2011

T&T's tail trumps Steyn

Dale Steyn was the favourite to win the battle against the Trinidad & Tobago tail. He didn't

At one end was Dale Steyn, the best fast bowler in the world looking to put the seal on a fantastic opening spell of 3-1-3-1 and take Cape Cobras into the semi-finals. There were 24 runs to defend and a 19th over to bowl. It's been the over of the devil in the Champions League T20. Steyn had already come unstuck in the penultimate over once, when Chennai Super Kings' resident Trinidadian, Dwayne Bravo, clobbered him for 16 runs. As Steyn ran in to bowl at the Trinidad & Tobago lower order, he would have expected redemption waiting for him.

On strike was Ravi Rampaul, the bowler of the tournament despite the heart-breaking meltdown against New South Wales in the Super Over. At the non-striker's end was Kevon Cooper, whose all-round effort had derailed the Super Kings in the previous game. Watching from the sidelines was the CSK team, knowing that only a Trinidad & Tobago win could keep them in the tournament. Even they must have known Steyn was unlikely to combust a second time.

And then it happened, the way it can only in the Twenty20 format. Having bowled high-quality outswingers during his opening spell, Steyn began the 19th over with a wide yorker. Rampaul pounced on the room and crunched it square for four. Three length balls and a slower delivery followed, and T&T hustled five runs off them to reduce the equation to 15 off 7. Something had to give, and it was Steyn's composure that did. He ended the over with a full toss on leg stump, which Cooper hoisted straight for six. Despite finishing with figures of 4-1-18-1 - the best for Cobras by a distance - Steyn had cost his side the game. Should he have bowled out with the new ball?

"There was a temptation to bowl him out, he bowled beautifully first up," Justin Kemp, the Cobras captain, said after the defeat. "But he is one of the world's best death bowlers, and I had to bowl our best bowler at the death."

Unfortunately for Kemp, this has been a tournament where reputations have counted for little. T&T's Cooper had arrived in obscurity, with a bunch of unconventional offcutters, ridiculously daring footwork and a long handle he isn't shy of wielding. For the second time in two games he brought his skills to the fore in the pressure overs.

Cooper's match-winning exploits reminded observers of the impact his fellow Trinidadian, Kieron Pollard, had in the first Champions League in 2009. Cooper, however, hasn't given the prospects of an IPL contract much thought. "We just want to show people that teams in the West Indies can compete," he had said earlier. "T&T is flying the West Indies flag very high in India."

T&T's Champions League campaign might end by midnight, but the party will carry on for much longer. In the meantime they prepared to return the favour and root for the Super Kings, as long as their margin of victory was not too large. Daren Ganga gave away his allegiance when he wrapped a CSK jersey around him as he walked away from the press conference.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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