Trinidad & Tobago earned the unique honour of winning the Caribbean Twenty20 for the third successive year, and their fourth in total, after they trampled over a hapless Guyana with a nine-wicket victory
Trinidad & Tobago earned the unique honour of winning the Caribbean Twenty20 for the third successive year, and their fourth title overall, after they trampled over a hapless Guyana with a nine-wicket victory. Anointed the favourites from the moment this final edition of the tournament began on January 6, the defending champions lived up to their reputation with a resounding victory.
Kieron Pollard, promoted up the order, swept a massive six over wide long-on for the winning runs, threw his bat aside and stripped off his red Trinidad & Tobago shirt to display a white vest on which was written: "Congratulations T&T team. We have done it. I'm proud." His team-mate Dwayne Bravo, meanwhile, cut short the victory lap to join the DJ on the performing deck to sing and dance to the popular Soca numbers "Differentology" and "Bacchanalist", thus adding to the carnival preparations gathering back in Port of Spain and rest of the island.
Chasing a modest 117 for victory, T&T started in dominant fashion, racing to 25 after three overs as the opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis declared their positive intent. Guyana should have had Lewis early on, however, when he miscued a pull against a short delivery from Ronsford Beaton, one of the most impressive fast bowlers to have emerged from the last two weeks. Beaton charged forward to take the catch in his follow through but wicketkeeper Derwin Christian advanced simultaneously from behind the wicket and both men collided, allowing Lewis, who had run virtually to the other end, to return safely back to his crease.
Next ball, Lewis, playing his second match of the tournament, upper-cut Beaton for the first six of T&T's innings. Lewis meted out further punishment to Steven Jacobs as 20 runs came from the fifth over to bring up the T&T 50, but Beaton got his man when he sent down a short-pitched delivery that Lewis try to duck only to present an easy catch. The Guyana players flashed nervous smiles, perhaps realising the writing was already on the wall. Simmons and Pollard ensured that it was, wrapping up the chase with almost eight overs to spare.
Earlier, there had been a lot of emphasis placed on the toss, as only twice in eleven matches played on the St Lucia leg of this tournament had the team batting first won. Veerasammy Permaul, the Guyana captain, called heads, lost and was asked to bat. However, the way the evening panned out, such factors were unlikely to have made any difference to T&T, as they dominated the contest throughout.
T&T were coming into the match after a four-day break but they were not slow to regain their rhythm. Guyana's batsmen were completely at sea against the combination of aggressive fast bowling from Shannon Gabriel and Rayad Emrit, backed up by the wily spin of Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine. It was Gabriel, with his bounding run-up, who clocked consistently blistering pace to put Guyana under the cosh straightaway.
After taking just a single from Gabriel's first over, Christian powerfully drove Badree for the first boundary off the seventh ball of the match. Two balls later, trying to hit straight and over the bowler's head, Christian mistimed to mid-off. Emrit was the catcher but in Badree's next over he made a mess of a simple chance from Trevon Griffith, the other Guyana opener, who had attempted a straight hoick.
Ramnaresh Sarwan continued his terrible form, falling prey to an familiar ploy. Prompted by Dwayne Bravo, Gabriel adjusted his lengths, pitching more back of length and short against Sarwan, who lost control of his stroke on the charge and top-edged to midwicket. In the same over, Gabriel attacked the ribs of new man Narsingh Deonarine with a lifting delivery, the batsman beaten by the pace to be caught behind.
By the time the fielding restrictions were removed after the sixth over, Guyana were 23 for 3. At the halfway mark, they had limped to 49 for 3, with just two fours coming from the bat. It was not the first time Guyana had started off in such sluggish fashion. Throughout the tournament their top order had failed to perform consistently. If anything short cameos and spirited partnerships had carried them to the summit clash.
In Guyana's play-off win over Jamaica, Griffith and Christopher Barnwell had raised a match-turning 79-run run partnership for the third wicket. Less than 24 hours later the pair were once again attempting another rescue act. On 19, Griffith attempted to slog Emrit down the ground but gave another chance to the bowler, who allowed the ball to bounce out of his hands once again. "This guy doesn't want to be here," was Ramdin's response to another life for Griffith and although the batsman slog-swept Narine for a six in the next over he was eventually run out by a Pollard direct hit from short midwicket while going for a tight single.
After that steadying, 61-run partnership, the onus was now entirely on Barnwell. However, he was finding it hard to connect and he departed for 32 in the 17th over, top-edging Emrit to point. Two balls later, Leon Johnson was caught in the deep by Simmons: Guyana had lost two wickets for just one run. Although 11 runs came off the final over, Guyana knew it was too little and too late.
Guyana, who won the tournament in 2006 and 2010, were playing their fourth match in as many days and were running low on fuel. Clearly they had not had enough time to chalk out a workable strategy, something T&T managed to do convincingly. Possessing as many as seven of West Indies' World Twenty20-winning squad, T&T had the experience, firepower, nous and balance to win the tournament. In the end they were the deserving winners.