Joseph and Benn ease Superstars past Trinidad
Stanford Superstars 146 for 5 (Joseph 45, Dowlin 35, Badree 2-20) beat Trinidad & Tobago 124 for 8 (Guillen 31, Benn 2-15) by 22 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
A thumping and unbeaten 45 from the Stanford Superstars' stand-in captain, Sylvester Joseph, led his side to a convincing 22-run win over Trinidad & Tobago in the first match of the eagerly anticipated Stanford Super Series.
The opening game was a warm-up to the richer events that lie in store next week, but there was still plenty of intrigue, not least in gauging the vagaries of the pitch - the sandy-coloured stage on which the small matter of an unprecedented US$20 million rests. From the outset, it was difficult for batsmen to time the ball, the only reward coming from muscular and powerful hitting, which Trinidad lacked.
The Superstars initially struggled, however, with Trinidad - the domestic Stanford 20/20 champions - opening the bowling with Samuel Badree, the legspinner. Bowling full, straight and at a good pace, Badree restricted the Superstars' strokeplay, and although Andre Fletcher and Travis Dowlin's opening partnership spanned 7.3 overs, they scratched a paltry 34. As it turned out, this was a vital base on which to propel their innings in the last five overs.
Fletcher grew in confidence, flicking the legspinner through midwicket and heaving him over the top for the series' first six, but he eventually fell trying to lift another maximum to long-on, neatly taken by Ravi Rampaul. Trinidad were applying the squeeze impressively, as the Superstars limped to 50 for 2 at the halfway point, but Joseph and Dowlin provided the momentum with a brisk stand of 55 in six overs.
Captaining the side in place of Chris Gayle, who was unavailable due to family problems, Joseph took a shine to Trinidad's other spinner, Rishi Bachan. Joseph lifted him muscularly over midwicket before launching Sherwin Ganga onto the roof of Sir Allen's prized Sticky Wicket restaurant.
And then came Kieron Pollard, a heavyweight in build and batsmanship, who smashed 24 from 14 balls to really give the Superstars a late-innings charge. His only six was one of the biggest of the night, heaving Navin Stewart over midwicket and into the swimming pool. Impressively, Stewart held his nerve to york him in the same over, and Lyndon James three balls later. The Superstars had carved 96 from the second half of their innings, helped by three dropped catches from Trinidad. Nevertheless, a target of 147 still seemed perfectly gettable.
They began poorly though, Jerome Taylor removing Lendl Simmons with a searing delivery which pinged off the surface, but William Perkins ensured Trinidad were within touching distance with a crowd-pleasing 18 from 16 balls. Like Trinidad, however, the Superstars were quick to wheel in their spinners, and Sulieman Benn, a towering windmill of a spinner at 6ft 7in, fired in a yorker to bowl Perkins.
In came Justin Guillen - whose great uncle was Sammy Guillen, Test cricketer of both West Indies and New Zealand - and he was in elegant touch, driving sweetly through the off side. On a pitch offering no pace, Trinidad needed much more than classy twos and threes, however. Stewart showed his appetite for a battle with an enjoyable 26 which contained two of the night's zingiest sixes - Dave Mohammed was dispatched out of the ground with ease. But with 49 needed from 25 balls, and Benn bowling full and straight, Trinidad lacked lower-order firepower to make a go of it.
This was not the clinical performance the Superstars' seven-week training camp promised, with dropped catches and a below-par batting performance, but they were strong enough on the night. All attention turns to the English camp as Middlesex - whose spin-twins Shaun Udal and Murali Kartik have been so successful in the Twenty20 Cup - take on England on Sunday.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo