By Sean Devers
Twenty-one-year-old West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard was the star under a clear night sky last night as he powered Trinidad and Tobago into tomorrow’s President’s Cup regional one-day cricket final as defending champions Jamaica lost by three wickets in the first semi-final.
Pollard grabbed 3-38 with his medium pace on a sluggish track as Jamaica reached 197-8 off their 50 overs before returning to clobber six sixes and three fours in a 64-ball 76 as T&T, the reigning regional 20/20 champions, made 200-7 in 47 overs to advance to their third consecutive regional one-day final.
The Darren Ganga led T&T unit will face the winner of today’s second semi-final between Barbados and the Leeward Islands in tomorrow’s Day/Night final which commences at 13:30hrs.
Watched by a small but vocal crowd in bright sunshine, Jamaica, who beat T&T by 28 runs in the last final in Barbados last year, recovered from 94-4 after they elected to bat first as Skipper Tamar Lambert again looked the most accomplished batmen in a team missing seven of their key players due to West Indies duty along with Marlon Samuels who was not eligible for selection.
The left-handed Lambert stroked seven fours in a solid 55 from 68 balls and alone with Lerenzo Ingram (19) added 55 for the first wicket before Ingram was leg before to left arm spinner Rishi Bachan at 149-5.
West Indies under-19 opener Horace Miller (4) was run out at 18-1 while Brenton Parchment, one of two Test players in the inexperienced Jamaican side, was leg before to leg-spinner Samuel Badree for 23 at 46-2.
David Bernard, the other Test player in the line-up, was caught and bowled by West Indies medium pacer Rayad for 31 just when he looked set for a big score to leave the team from Reggae Country on 81-3. It was soon 94-4 when Danza Hyatt (19) was removed by the versatile Pollard.
The 27-year-old Lambert batted beautifully on the large and fast ground to post his second fifty in his third innings in the competition but once Ingram departed and Pollard induced Lambert to loft a catch to deep mid-wicket at 176-6, the well oiled T&T unit ensured the Jamaicans failed to reach 200.
Bachan supported Pollard with 2-34 for T&T who were off to a horrible start when they began their reply as the lights were turned on for the first time for a regional game at Guyana newest cricket venue.
West Indies under-19 player Adrian Barath and Skipper Ganga were leg before off successive balls from Bernard for ducks as pre-tournament favorites T&T wobbled to 7-2 in the second over.
West Indies youth left-hander Daren Bravo and Lendl Simmons, who faced 62 ‘dot balls’ in his painstaking 84-ball 24, revived the position with a 54-run partnership before off-spinner Bevon Browne bowled Bravo at 61-3.
Bravo flattered to deceive after stroking fast bowler Andre Richards for three exquisite boundaries off successive balls; the last one, an immaculate cover drive, had Brian Lara written all over it as it reached the boundary like a bullet. Bravo’s 41 lasted 50 balls and was decorated with six fours.
Gibran Mohamed (14) was soon removed by off-spinner Yanik Elliot while Simmons fell to a brilliant catch at mid-on by substitute Andre Russell off leg-spinner Gavin Wallace to leave the score on 104-5 as Jamaica remained in the fight.
Jamaica wasted an opportunity to dismiss the big hitting Pollard when Ingram at point floored an easy catch off Wallace with the score on 156-4 and Pollard on 52.
Man-of-the-Match Pollard, who has played four ODIs, smashed Ingram for two massive sixes and a four in an over which coast 18 runs to put the pressure back on Jamaica and although he was eventually trapped leg before to Lambert at 191-6 in the 46th over, the rebuilding job had already been done between Pollard who batted very responsibly and Sherwin Ganga (18) who played the supporting role in their 87-run seventh wicket partnership.
Parchment bowled Ganga at 193-7 before Emrit (5*) struck a boundary to end the contest in style.
Today’s second semi-final Barbados and Leeward Islands is scheduled to commence at 13:30hrs and a keen contest is anticipated.
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