Guyana outlast T&T in thriller
Guyana 175 for 7 (Dowlin 59, Pollard 4-31) beat Trinidad and Tobago 171 (Bravo 55, Barath 54, Royston Crandon 4-37) by four runs
It was heartbreak for the expectant crowd at the Queen's Park Oval as tournament favourites Trinidad and Tobago lost out on a thriller by four runs against Guyana. It shouldn't have got this close. At the end of the 16th over, with the required rate at 19, the game was Guyana's to lose. But Dwayne Bravo threatened to pull off the impossible for T&T with a psychedelic cameo of 55 off 20 balls and it was the Guyanese who were praying for luck in those tense final moments. Royston Crandon eventually got on top of the hosts, bagging the final few wickets to seal a game which was in Guyana's hands for most part.
Trinidad suffered because their batsmen couldn't hunt in pairs. Adrian Barath made a half-century but support from the top order wasn't forthcoming. When he was dismissed, in the 15th over, Bravo had faced just one ball and the asking rate was close to 15. One over from Christopher Barnwell, however, added a twist to the script. Bravo, who had earlier got his rhythm going with a six off Davendra Bishoo, bashed Barnwell for three huge sixes and edged one for four past third man in the 18th over. Only a toe-crushing yorker could have stopped Bravo's blitz as he picked the lengths and connected handsomely.
Twenty seven off the over still left a difficult 30 to get off the last two. The offspinner Lennox Cush was in for a scare as he too was taken apart for sixes, two of them down the ground. Bravo had raced to his fifty, collected 16 off the penultimate over before finding Jonathan Foo at long-off, and the relief was palpable in the Guyana camp. Crandon bowled the last over, picked up two wickets but it was still anybody's game with five needed off two balls. It was left to the captain Daren Ganga to try and emulate Bravo in the dying moments of the game but he eventually fell lbw trying to muscle the ball to the on side.
Guyana were the deserved winners because of the imaginative tactic by their captain Ramnaresh Sarwan in reshuffling the batting order, which helped them score 175 in a match reduced to 19 overs due to rain. That performance inspired them to put in a sharp display in the field, which was in contrast to their opponents, who were sloppy.
Guyana, interestingly, held back their experienced hands in Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine and instead promoted their sloggers. Sarwan and Deonarine could have made their way to the crease a lot sooner had Trinidad held their catches.
Not to take any credit away from the way Guyana played though. They exhibited a lot of exuberance in their strokes, even if some weren't very attractive. The experienced Sewnarine Chattergoon got them off to a racy start, using the crease well to carve the seamers over extra cover and launching a couple of sixes down the ground. Travis Dowlin took time to settle, but picked up the pace after Chattergoon's fall. He chipped down the track to the left-arm spin of Dave Mohammed, dumping him over wide long-off, but nearly perished the next ball. Navin Stewart back-pedalled at long-off but his heel touched the rope as he took the catch, thereby giving Dowlin a fortuitous six. Dowlin appeared a little too eager to push the scoring, often mistiming full tosses he should have put away.
One such full toss should have landed down Simmons' throat at long leg, but the fielder messed it up. It was the shot that brought up his fifty. He tried to scoop Bravo over deep cover but found Sherwin Ganga at the boundary's edge. Esuan Crandon, promoted to No.3, slogged and swished at many in his run-a-ball 30. He was the first of Kieron Pollard's victims, caught at short third man off a miscued slog. Foo and Barnwell served up a few lusty blows to get Guyana closer to a competitive score as Trinidad were let down by their out-cricket.
Bravo, one of the safest catchers in the side, dropped a sitter off Foo at long-on, and then Pollard missed an easy run-out on his follow through, giving Foo another life. A pumped up Pollard got two wickets in an over when he bowled Foo and dismissed Barnwell, caught in the deep following a collision between Bravo and Lendl Simmons. Another drop, by Barath at midwicket, added to Trinidad's embarrassment, and those let-offs were to cost them in the end.
Guyana ensured they stayed on top of the hosts when the chase began. Sarwan opened with a spinner, Cush, and kept rotating his bowlers to not allow the batsmen to settle into any rhythm. William Perkins and Darren Bravo both perished to mis-hits, trying to push the scoring. Barath regularly made room, cutting and chopping the ball into the gaps on the off side. He needed a supporting hand from the other end and with the required rate increasing, Pollard seemed the right person to try and accelerate.
But a stunning effort by Foo at wide long-off, diving to his left, ended Pollard's brief stint. Four balls later, Barath miscued to cover and it seemed all but over for Trinidad. Bravo's fireworks entertained, but it came too late for Trinidad who failed to make the finals and give themselves another shot at the Champions League, which will now have a new representative from West Indies.