Stanford 20/20 August 13, 2006

Big bucks on the line in Stanford final

Mark Pouchet

Kieron Pollard lofts one of his seven sixes during his 83 in the semi-finals © Trinidad and Tobago Express

On the heels of a crushing victory over Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago's (T&T) national senior team cricketers enter the final of the US$28 million Stanford 20/20 Tournament on Sunday confident that they are ready to add the final touches to the "big picture".

Turning their back squarely on overconfidence and focusing single-mindedly on game-plan execution last Friday, T&T upset whatever Cinderella plans the Nevis were harbouring with an emphatic 74-run victory in the last semi-final match of the competition, at the Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua.

And the incentive of a US $ 1 million and US $ 500,000 pay out for the champions and runners-up, respectively, is sure to inspire, like it has done in previous games, a scintillating match that should provide another opportunity for the sold-out crowd to observe what has become the standard fare of this competition - sharp and athletic fielding, inspired and probing bowling, with enterprising and daring batting.

Those characteristics have certainly been present in the performances of Daren Ganga's T&T side, whose manager Omar Khan has said his team is totally zoomed on the "big picture" of winning the tournament. And the T&T squad highlighted those traits during their outstanding triumph on Friday.

Man-of-the-match and Play-of-the-match winner Kieron Pollard laid the platform for the win with a 38-ball 83 that propelled the local side to an intimidating 210 for 6 off their 20 overs.

According to Khan, Pollard's positioning at number three was a tactical move that reaped great dividends. He said, "We strategised that if we lost an early wicket, we would need someone to raise the momentum of the run rate and Kieron is a natural player, a gifted player with immense power and timing and he went in there and got the job done."

Pollard's was the kind of effort that made Ganga's unbeaten 62 off 39 balls pale in comparison. A solid batting output was compounded by the incisive bowling of Mervyn Dillon (3 for 30), while Samuel Badree and Pollard himself secured figures of 2 for 14 and 2 for 19, respectively.

"I have always said and continue to maintain," Khan reasoned, "that once we apply ourselves and play intelligent cricket, we are gonna come out on top."

Khan said that focus ensured that there was no complacency in their approach to Nevis, saying that his team had guarded against that at all times and adopted the mentality of taking it one game at a time. "There is no underestimation of our opponents because we know anybody can show up and play a good game and spoil your plans."

T&T had one last practice yesterday, ahead of today's final with Guyana, led by Ramnaresh Sarwan, the West Indies middle-order batsman. "We know of the quality of the Guyana side but we are not overawed by them", Khan added. "We will just execute our plans and adapt and adjust to suit 'cause we are confident in our ability and preparation and know we can win the game."