Emrit leads T&T fightback
Barbados 130 for 5 (Emrit 2-24) trail Trinidad and Tobago 340 (Emrit 112, Mohammed 50, Collins 4-52) by 210 runs
Reyad Emrit starred with both bat and ball, stroking his way to his maiden regional and first-class century to put Trinidad & Tobago in firm control of the Carib Beer Challenge final against Barbados at Guaracara Park at Pointe-a-Pierre.
The hosts needed a knight in shining armour to take them to safety after ending the first day precariously perched on 223 for 8. But against a tough Barbadian bowling attack - led by the West Indies trio of Pedro Collins, Ian Bradshaw and Corey Collymore - Emrit responded with a gritty 112 to take T&T to a competitive first -innings score of 340.
That was not the end of his contribution for the day though, as he returned with early breakthroughs to finish with figures of 2 for 24 from seven overs to leave the visitors tottering on 130 for 5.
The day began with a total of 250 looking a very good score for T&T. The Barbadians would have been hoping to mop up the tail and begin their chase, but that was much further away than they anticipated. And although they applied the early pressure - only 73 runs came in the first session - they could not separate the pair of Emrit and Dave Mohammed, his overnight partner, before the lunch break.
Emrit, unbeaten overnight on 37 and Mohammed (11 not out), won the patience game early on, turning over the strike when possible, and dispatching the odd bad ball to the boundary. They would eventually post 122 for the ninth wicket, a new T&T record. Emrit brought up his fifty with a soft push for two, but his run-scoring slowed once he reached the half-century. Mohammed also used his opportunities to cut Ryan Austin, the offspinner, twice through point for four.
Emrit's one chance came when he was on 61. It was a lofted drive to midwicket, which was put down by Collymore off Ryan Hinds, the captain. To the Barbadians' chagrin, he made good use of his let-off. After lunch, Emrit brought up T&T's 300 with a push to long on for two, then drove Hinds through deep extra cover for four. By then, Barbados, the defending champions, looked dispirited in the field and appeared to be waiting for something to happen.
Hinds opted to bring back Collymore, which seemed a good ploy, and he hit Mohammed on the pad four times in one over, at least one of which he was very lucky to survive a confident appeal. Mohammed carried on though, straight driving Collymore to the long-on boundary for his fifth four, and then pushing to mid-on for a single to bring up his 50. Emrit had a couple of cover-driven fours to take him to 89, and got a couple more to take him into the nervous nineties. He did not seem too nervous though, lifting Austin beyond the extra-cover boundary for six to move to 97.
Mohammed departed on 50, trying to cut over point. On 99, and with last man Amit Jaggernauth at the other end, Emrit slashed at a wide ball by Collymore outside the off stump. The next ball was cut to first slip and raced past Floyd Reifer to the boundary. Emrit ran down the pitch and leaped into the air in celebration, with fans rushing onto the ground to congratulate him. Emrit took his total to 112 and the overall T&T score to 340 before he slashed at a wide ball and was caught in the slips by Kurt Edwards to bring T&T's innings to a close.
Barbados started brightly, in their reply, Dale Richards and Wayne Blackman taking them to 27 off the first six overs. Ganga then decided to make his first bowling change, replacing Richard Kelly with Emrit, the first innings century-maker, at the northern end. This move immediately paid dividends for T&T, as, still charged from his crucial knock, Emrit soon removed both openers to leave the visitors on 43 for 2 at tea.
First, he succeeded in trapping Richards lbw with his second ball to give the hosts their first wicket at 27. Blackman later played a forward defensive shot to the same bowler, and only managed to feather a thin edge behind to Denesh Ramdin, who accepted the catch.
After the tea interval, Barbados started slowly, with skipper Hinds taking almost 20 minutes to add to his score. But once Reifer started to open up and find the boundary, Hinds also opened up, although Mohammed almost managed to have him run out. Mohammed's third over, however, bore fruit - Reifer, on 18, skipped down the pitch to go after Mohammed and edged to first slip, only to see Bravo hold onto the ball at chest height to leave Barbados at 70 for 3.
In came Dwayne Smith, and he began in brisk fashion, picking up a few singles before slapping Mohammed to cover for four. He departed just as suddenly as he arrived, charging down the pitch at the newly-introduced Jaggernauth, and being stumped by Ramdin on the second attempt.
Kirk Edwards, the debutant, grew in confidence, as he drove Jaggernauth to the extra-cover boundary for four to bring up Barbados' hundred. Eventually, Hinds gifted his wicket to Kelly in his second spell, as he drove at a ball wide of off-stump and offered the faintest of edges to Ramdin.
Barbados would surely be ruing the chance they missed to take the ascendancy in the match in the first session. And unless one of their remaining batsmen can pull off an Emrit-esque performance to even things up, they may well lose this final.