By Sean Devers in
Antigua In association
with Digicel, Carib
Beer, Leisure Inn,
GSL, Queensway &
Dave’s West Indian
A spine-tingling 28-ball 41 from Daren Bravo and an efficient work in the field by favourites Trinidad and Tobago spearheaded the 2008 Champions to a 36 run victory against English T20 winners Hampshire Royals in Sunday night’s Caribbean T20 Final at the Kensington Oval.
Already without Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo who opted to play in Australia’s Big Bash instead of for their Twin-Island Nation, T&T, who had already qualified for their second trip to India for this year’s Champions League, lost the services of inspirational Captain Daren Ganga, due to an injured left hand.
But Denesh Ramdin led the team wonderfully in the festive atmosphere as most of the over 6,000 fans jumped, waved mostly T&T flags and danced almost non-stop to the pulsating music in the party stand.
When the contest ended with the English 36 runs short of T&T’s 147-7 off 20 overs, Kensington Oval was transformed into a huge Trini Carnival party as the champions collected their first prize of US$62,500.
Hampshire, one of two English teams in the tournament returned home with the US$25,000 2nd prize after they had beaten the Windward Islands in the semifinal.
With Nevis born-Runako Morton making his T&T debut, T&T won the toss and elected to bat on a good track and fast outfield and when Adrian Barath (2) fell to Danny Briggs in the first over a riveting contest was anticipated.
But Bravo arrived to a resounding ovation and immediately set the place on fire with a stunning array of magnificent shots which had the fans eating out of his hands.
The gifted 21-year-old left-hander, with fifties in each of his 3 Tests in Sri Lanka, evoked memories of the great Brian Lara with his mannerism, batting style and even his looks as he completely knocked the wind out of the Hampshire bowlers with his delightful exhibition of scintillating stroke-play.
Bounce, pace and movement from Simon Jones was a display of high class fast bowling in the 2nd over as a couple of beauties flew past, probing the defence of Lendl Simmons.
But Simmons who hit 2 fours and a six in 31, settled down to add 77 with Bravo to give T&T, the only Caribbean team to register 200-plus T20 totals, a rollicking start.
Bravo smashed a pumped-up Jones over extra-cover for 4 in the 4th over and followed it up with another stunning drive over mid-off, this time off Riazuddin. An effortless 6 mid-wicket followed off the next ball as T&T galloped to 31-1 in the 5th over.
Bravo moved to 21 with another imperious shot over mid-off for 4 and then bettered the shot with a fantastic six next ball as Chris Wood was ruthlessly attacked with disdain.
Simmons joined the party with a thumping 4 to bring up the 50 in the 7th over as the pair demonstrated to teams like Guyana who never capitalized on the first 6 power-play overs, how to bat at the top of the order in T20 cricket.
When Bravo was taken at long-off after hitting 5 fours and two sixes and Simmons was removed by Benny Howell 5 runs later, T&T were 84-2 in the 11th over and Hampshire was fighting back.
The team from Carnival country lost their way in the 2nd half of their innings but a cameo 19-ball 33 from Ramdin got them close to 150 but the English would have been pleased with their overall work since a 200 total looked easily on when Bravo and Simmons were together.
A maiden over first up from Ravi Rampaul and the demise of their leading batsman Johann Myburgh in the 2nd over; bowled by Samuel Badree for a duck, put T&T in control and although Howell made 28 not out and James Vice got 23, Hampshire could only reach 111-8 when their overs expired.
Kevin Cooper and Jason Mohamed took 2 wickets each, but all of the Trini bowlers ‘came to the party’ as their team maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament.
T&T who played unbeaten until they lost to New South Wales in the 2009 Champions League final in India, returned home yesterday to a hero’s welcome and will play Barbados in Trinidad in their next Regional game when the 2011 Four-day tournament commence on February 4.
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