Terrific Trinidad & Tobago thrash Somerset
A charged-up Trinidad & Tobago opened their campaign in style, demolishing Somerset, and the county side's net-run rate, with a big win at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The vaunted Somerset top order collapsed for the second match in a row, and there were no lower-order heroics to rescue them in the chase this time.
The difference between the two sides was highlighted by their batting approach in the Powerplays: T&T blasted eight fours and two sixes to sprint to 59 for 3, while Somerset hit only three boundaries to limp to 28 for 3. T&T's quick bowlers kept the batsmen in check by not allowing them any drivable deliveries, and their disciplined trio of spinners choked Somerset with their subtle variations. Dwayne Bravo showed what the West Indies team was missing due to the contracts crisis, nipping out two early wickets, and two more at the death to finish off the match.
Marcus Trescothick was the first to go, nicking Bravo to the keeper in the second over. Craig Kieswetter pottered around for eight balls, making four, before charging out and trying to flatbat a short ball, only to lob it to Darren Bravo. Justin Langer was the next frustrated batsman dismissed; after getting only two in five balls in Sherwin Ganga's sixth over, he pulled a legstump ball to William Perkins at square leg. Zander de Bruyn was the only one to pass 20, remaining unbeaten on 43 after coming in at No. 4.
The tight bowling meant Somerset were only allowed to pick off the singles as though in the reviled middle overs of a one-dayer, and not a frenetic Twenty20 where the asking-rate was spiralling into double digits. The first over in which they took more than eight runs was the 14th. Even that over ended with a Somerset wicket, and a trademark over-the-top Dave Mohammed celebration: a forward flip followed by a yoga exercise-like touching of the feet and the knees as he sat on the ground.
The T&T's openers, after Daren Ganga chose to bat, went over the top, raising 43 breathless runs by the fifth over, with a mix of class, crass and cheek. Their approach was typified by the third over from Somerset's hero in the previous match, Alfonso Thomas. Lendl Simmons got the front leg out of the way and clubbed the first ball over covers for four, attempted an agricultural slog off the fourth, deftly steered a wide full toss past the fifth past short third man for four, before rounding off the over with a neatly timed flick past midwicket for another boundary.
His opening partner William Perkins missed several scoops past the keeper, and was beaten when he tried some booming drives as well, but that didn't stop him from trying to clobber most deliveries. When he connected, the ball went a long way; the highlight was when he sashayed down the track and powered Ben Phillips over long-off for six.
With the runs flowing, Somerset's bowlers, as in the upset-win against Deccan Chargers, launched a fightback. They plucked four wickets in ten balls to bring the game back on an even keel. Simmons slashed the penultimate delivery of the fifth over to third man, two balls later Perkins missed a straight one from Willoughby. Darren Bravo, who had showed his confidence levels by swinging his first ball over long-on, was next to go, to a reflex caught-and-bowled from Willoughby. His brother Dwayne went for a golden-duck slapping a wide ball from legspinner Max Waller, his second delivery in two matches, to backward point.
The spin pair of Waller and Arul Suppiah then ensured a less frenzied passage of play, keeping the batsmen mostly to singles and twos. Waller was getting plenty of turn, and his googly was proving hard to read, while Suppiah fired it in flatter.
After the top-order collapse, T&T looked to the big-hitting Kieron Pollard for providing the impetus. However, he miscued a high full toss in the 16th over, leaving Denesh Ramdin the task of steering the team past 150. Ramdin's was a measured knock compared to his team-mates, hitting only two boundaries in a run-a-ball 39. It was Sherwin Ganga though, who gave the late push that T&T needed, smashing two leg stump full tosses for four in the 19th over and launching the first ball of the final over past long-on.
The team from the Caribbean ended on a 150, certainly a competitive score but one which Somerset should have got closer to. By being shot out for their second-lowest Twenty20 score, Langer's side are now left nervously watching the Deccan-T&T game on Wedenesday to know whether they progress.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo