Rampaul strikes to leave final poised
Day 3 Barbados 229 and 118 for 5 (Blackman 54, Rampaul 4-18) need 158 runs to beat Trinidad and Tobago 304 and 200 (Ganga 44, Smith 4-22)
The Trinidad and Tobago second innings was over and the ground staff were preparing to go and re-mark the crease for the Barbados victory chase. But the Barbadians were still on the field, all in a huddle.
Set a total of 276 to win the Carib Beer Challenge Final at Guaracara Park, it was as if they were trying to reassure themselves of the real possibility of victory and dedicate themselves to the task.
And in that same spirit of determination, Barbados, the new Carib Beer Cup champions, were soldiering on at 99 for one (Wayne Blackman 54, Shamarh Brooks 36) as day three drew to a close.
T&T skipper Daren Ganga needed wickets bad. He called back strike bowler Ravi Rampaul. It was ole mas time.
When play had ended, heart and soul Ravi had capsized the Bajan mango cart with three wickets for five runs in 12 balls.
Second ball: Brooks was flummoxed and lbw to a ball which cut back so sharply, it caught the teenager playing no shot.
Next over: Floyd Reifer went down to one of the catches of the season, steering a ball around off-stump to Kieron Pollard in the gully who flung his big frame to his right, stuck out his right hand and held onto a stunning snare.
Two balls later: A full inswinger won a plumb lbw verdict against Dwayne Smith.
Rampaul was giving people cold sweat. He had answered the call of the crew at the southern end: "We want ah wicket, right now!"
Onto the field some of them swarmed, delirious at the way T&T had rallied and put themselves in place to retain the Shield. The scene prompted a stern warning from the umpires.
It had been a hectic day for messrs Billy Doctrove and Norman Malcolm, who, between them, made several debatable calls against both sides. At the end of it, Barbados were in the bamboo at 118 for five, captain Ryan Hinds and night watchman Tino Best holding on. Another 158 are still needed.
A gripping contest had ebbed and flowed as the bowlers held sway. But Rampaul (10-3-18-4 overall), irresistible with his combination of swing and seam, claimed the day's honours for T&T.
He was assisted, too, by Rayad Emrit, the other half of Ganga's late double change, who accounted for Blackman to a low catch to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. It was a fine end to what had largely been a tense day for the teeming Guaracara crowd.
T&T had already lost Lendl Simmons when they resumed yesterday morning on six for one. But with a first innings lead of 75, they had the chance to seize decisive control of the match by batting and batting and batting on an accommodating pitch. They didn't.
The application required for a lead of more than 300 was just not there. Opener Adrian Barath's early removal by left-arm seamer Pedro Collins, via a Smith slip catch with the scoreboard reading 15 for two, really demanded that his teammates buckle down against a determined Bajan attack.
But in all, T&T managed to bat just 62.4 overs for an even 200.
The third wicket pair of plucky night watchman Amit Jaggernauth (30-four fours) and innings top-scorer Ganga (44) had the right idea in producing the second highest stand of the innings-45.
Jaggernauth, dropped in successive overs to the massive dismay of Best, nevertheless made a success of his promotion, staying at the crease for 77 minutes before Corey Collymore, who troubled him repeatedly in his excellent spell of 10-3-26-1, eventually had him caught in the gully by Hinds.
Jaggernauth's was the kind of concentrated work which the Guaracara posse would have demanded of Dwayne Bravo who replaced him. But he stayed just 22 minutes for four before he cavalierly helped Hinds into the hands of Collymore at short midwicket.
In came Kieron Pollard, one of the heroes of T&T's season, but a youngster with a recent string of low scores behind him. Perhaps that knowledge made him stand his ground when, first ball, he seemed to edge a delivery which turned across him from left-arm spinner Hinds, into the hands of Reifer at slip. The jubilant Bajans were sure they had their man. But Doctrove evidently did not see the deviation.
Hinds could not believe it. And his subsequent tantrum ended with him sitting on the ground in disbelief.
It was an unbecoming moment all round. And the fielding side seemed to lose their focus somewhat from then until the lunch break in an extended first session which ended with T&T on 120 for four.
Pollard got there on a subdued 22, Ganga, playing with the same great assurance as in his first innings century, 43. They had put on 48 by then and seemed to have weathered the storm.
But back after the break came Collins, the trouble man from the first innings. In his first over, the second after lunch, he got Ganga to make his first real mistake of the match, driving at a wide delivery which he snicked to Reifer at first slip.
That was the beginning of a slide which saw the remaining five T&T wickets go down for 77 runs. Having removed Ganga (44, 145 minutes, six fours) who during the innings crossed 600 runs for the season, Collins returned next over to also snare Pollard. Struggling of late to play with the freedom which brought him so many runs earlier this season, he succumbed on 24, edging an attempted booming drive to wicketkeeper Patrick Browne.
Ramdin (29), Richard Kelly (10), Emrit (19) and Dave Mohammed (15) all got starts. But they had not the carry through their team so desperately needed-the quartet all falling to the slow seamers of Smith (7.4-2-22-4).
The large crowd, eager to make some noise, had been put on mute. They were not so sure T&T could defend 275, especially with two days and a session to go. But relentless Ravi made them all believe.