Trinidad & Tobago’s total triumph
They may have had the most talented team on paper, but Trinidad & Tobago was more than just the sum of their parts on Saturday, as they put together an all-round team display for a record extending 13th Super50 Cup title.
As we all know however, talent alone has never been a guarantee of success and the team led by head coach David Furlonge, knew that many other factors go into making a successful unit.
From the on-set, the men in red, white and black displayed a professional, entertaining and exciting brand of cricket that thrilled neutrals. Each player had their own unique characteristics and it gelled into the team being a well-oiled machine.
How their tournament began
Their first two games versus Jamaica and the Windward Islands showed the rest of the region what was to come with both bat and ball.
Facing rivals in yellow and black, and in what would be a theme throughout, T&T won the toss and elected to field. It seemed they preferred chasing. The Jamaicans racked up a solid 258-6, with Bandon King scoring a super 97.
The start was not ideal as Lendl Simmons was out in the first over with no score on the board. Would the team panic? Will their nerves affect them? The answer was a firm no. Fellow opener Evin Lewis bludgeon the attack with a 92 ball 107 with eight 4’s and an astonishing seven 6’s.
Together with veteran Darren Bravo and the exciting Nicholas Pooran, with 59 and 43 respectively, the victory was achieved with nine overs to spare. In any form of 50 over cricket, that is quite a vast margin of victory.
Next up, the Winwards, and led by the ever improving Anderson Phillip with three wickets, to add to the three he grabbed in the first game, T&T limited them to a total of 227. As if he did not want to be left out on the fun, Simmons this time took the lead with the bat.
The right-hander scored at a rate of over 89 to record his own century, a 102. Chasing such a low total, when one batsman makes almost half of the runs, cue the Brian Lara reference, it was evitable that they would win. A little less dominant this time, as they did it with 27 balls to spare.
T&T RED FORCE ARE THE NEW CHAMPIONS OF THE CG INSURANCE SUPER50 CUP!🥳🏆
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) February 28, 2021
Breaching Barbados & lashing Leeward
Next up, arch-rivals Barbados.
Any cricket match between these two teams always means that bit more than “just another game.”
Yet again, T&T bowled first. The Bajans batted well throughout, but never got going to really pressurise the opposition. Three batsmen in the line-up passed the 50 run mark, the pick of those was Roston Chase with 56 from 57 balls.
Another run chase, another time a batsman in T&T’s top order delivered a century. This time it was Jason Mohammed. The player from Barrackpore batted with maturity to make 122 and together with Lewis, put on 117 runs for the second wicket.
The middle order lost it’s way with Denesh Ramdin, Pooran Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine all going cheaply. At that stage, the score was 207-6 and it was a close call as to who the victors would be, as Chase grabbed three wickets.
Mohammed got out with one run still required, but Imran Khan came in and hit his first and only ball for a boundary and the win was achieved. Three wins from three matches, including over their arch-rivals and the team was gaining an incessant momentum.
Their next clash was against the Leeward Islands and it was a real blow-out. Rampaul and Narine picked up three scalps apiece and the top order, yet again took care of the total with consuming ease. Yannick Ottley played for the injured Simmons and top-scored with 47, showing how truly deep this team is currently.
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Future in sight
In what would eventually be a prelude to the final, the Red Force faced Guyana.
The dynamic between these two nations has been interesting. They are quite similar in many aspects and there is usually some banter and a few jokes thrown around between fans here and there. Quite entertaining really.
The Guyanese took first strike and made a fantastic opening partnership of 106 between Chanderpaul Hemraj and Tevin Imlach, but unfortunately for them, their teammates could not capitalise. The rest of the batting order fell away badly, nobody could even muster more than 12 to capitulate for just 187.
Leg-spinner Khan collected half of the wickets, to finish with superb figures of 9-0-32-5. For the first and only time in the tournament, neither opener scored a significant total, but remember, this is a total team here in Trinidad & Tobago.
Mohammed and Bravo put together a 112 run partnership to quell any fear of a batting collapse. The former was there at the end to end on a 115 run ball 82 and was joined by wicket-keeper Ramdin to guide their team home.
Thus ended the round-robin phase of the competition and Trinidad & Tobago had beaten all their rivals enroute to the Super50 Cup semi-finals. However, now it was a one-off and anything could happen.
The Red Force would face Jamaica and to keep the theme going, bowled first again.
It was a comeback of sorts this series for Rampaul and the fast-bowler from Preysal showed just why he has been held in such high regard. He bowled with accuracy, swing and aggression to finish with figures of 10-0-29-4 with an incredible economy of under 3. In modern cricket, it is almost impossible for a bowler to gather such figures, what with the big bats and tremendous power hitters of today.
In fact, even 30 years ago, those would be unlikely.
Jamaica though were not going to go away without a fight and put up a very respectable batting performance. Campbell and King put on 108 runs for the second wicket, each scored half-centuries and laid a foundation for their team. Once Phillip knocked over the stumps of the latter though, the team fell apart, despite several batsmen getting starts.
They managed to amass 255-7 from their allotted 50 overs and with runs on the board, Jamaica had something to defend.
Trinidad & Tobago needed a good start and got just that, with the Simmons-Lewis combination proving fruitful again. They put on 62 for the first wicket with Simmons in particular in a no nonsense mood. He scored a run a ball. What was interesting about this run chase, was how each batsman contributed to the cause.
Pooran and Pollard were there at the end and together they hit seven 6’s, belting the ball to all parts, mainly to the leg side. They were there at the end to clinch the win by six wickets with 47 balls remaining. With six more remaining, Pooran went on his knees and hit Allen for a straight six to book his team’s place in the final.
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Trinidad & Tobago vs Guyana: Super50 Cup Final
The showpiece event was set for Saturday 27th February in a day-night clash.
The Jaguars won the toss at Coolidge Cricket Ground and chose to send in Trinidad and Tobago to bat first. Now, we can look at that in the fact that they were trying to “throw the opposition” off their game. Up until the final, in the previous six matches, the Red Force had batted last, so maybe the tactic from the Guyanese was to give them something to think about.
Yet again, the top-order fired for T&T. The first two partnerships put on 100 plus runs to have the team at 221-2 after 38 overs. Both openers scored at more than a run a ball with Simmons treating the opposition bowlers with disdain.
If they pitched up the ball, he hit them straight down the ground, either for a boundary or for a six over long on or long off. When they dropped short, “Simmo” belted the ball over deep mid-wicket or with a ferocious cut through backward point or cover. And…when they took pace off the ball, he caressed the ball and picked up the one’s and two’s.
It was as dominant a display of batting we have seen for some time in Caribbean cricket and his 146 will be remembered for years to come. Lewis’s 57, Bravo’s 47 and cameos by Pooran, Pollard and Ramdin, all who scored at more than a run a ball meant a huge total of 362 was set by the record title holders.
Lendl Simmons with the HIGHEST individual score in the history of the #Super50Cup Finals! 🤯
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) February 27, 2021
Despite the large total, T&T could still not afford to take anything for granted, not with an in-form Shimron Hetmyer in the Guyanese ranks.
The T&T bowlers and fieldsmen were fully focused on their game and never at any point let the opposition get away from them. Before the ninth over had even been reached, they had half the Guyana batsmen back in the pavilion for just 50 runs. Trinidad & Tobago could sense the Super50 Cup was almost theirs.
What was clear for all to see, was there was a definite plan with each and every batsman. The most dangerous of-course was Hetmyer and when he edged a Rampaul delivery to the welcoming gloves of Ramdin behind the stumps, the team’s celebration was telling. The entire team pointed towards captain Pollard, as if to signal that he knew how to get the danger man out and entire team joy was proof of that.
Raymon Reifer rallied as best as he could with an unbeaten 97 and tried his best to stem the loss of wickets, but to no avail. T&T developed a habit of bowling straight and four of the last five wickets went the way of the bowled route. Those included last man out Nial Smith.
It was 19-year old Seales who sealed victory knocking Smith’s wickets in the one ball that he faced to set off the celebrations for the team and back in T&T wherever cricket fans were watching the match.
Trinidad & Tobago won their 13th Super50 Cup title, they went a perfect seven from seven and have beaten Guyana on all five occasions they have met in the final and it was their first title since 2016.
Added to the fact that the top three run-scorers were from Trinidad & Tobago and two of the top five wicket-takers with the ball.
— WIPA (@wiplayers) March 1, 2021
Dominance from start to finish and Trinidad & Tobago thoroughly deserved their triumph in the Super50 Cup.
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