CHENNAI, India, CMC-IANS – Kevon Cooper blitzed a late 25 not out, catapulting Trinidad & Tobago to a two-wicket victory over Cape Cobras of South Africa, but both sides were knocked out of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament yesterday.
The 22-year-old all-rounder struck one four and two sixes from 11 balls to earn the Man-of-the-Match award and bring T&T back from a seemingly hopeless position of 82-5 to 138 for eight, replying to the Cobras’ 137 for four.
Cooper pulled Charl Langeveldt to wide long-on for two to formalise the result with two balls remaining in the penultimate Group-A match at the Chidambaram Stadium.
The result moved Caribbean champions T&T to four points, but New South Wales Blues of Australia crushed Indian Premier League and previous CLT20 champions Chennai Super Kings by 46 runs a few hours later at the same venue, becoming the second side from the group, along with the Mumbai Indians to advance to the semi-finals.
This also meant that T&T finished third in the group ahead of the Cobras and the Super Kings.
Samuel Badree and Ravi Rampaul condemned the Cobras to a shaky start before discarded England batsman Owais Shah smote half-dozen fours and a six in an unbeaten 63 from 50 balls and Dane Vilas creamed seven fours in 54 from 44 balls to get the South African side a competitive total.
The Red Force never got their chase on track, after losing early wickets, and with the Cobras’ bowlers keeping it tight backed by some athletic fielding, the writing was on the wall for the Caribbean champions.
Lendl Simmons was lbw for six as Steyn worked up good pace at the start, and a little later, William Perkins was outfoxed by Rory Kleinveldt with clever change of pace to have the opener caught in the deep for nine.
A 35-run partnership for the third wicket between Darren Bravo and Adrian Barath gave T&T some hope until Cobras’ captain Justin Kemp, the discarded South Africa all-rounder, broke through with two wickets off consecutive deliveries.
Barath and T&T captain Daren Ganga were clean bowled for 16 and a duck respectively, as the Cobras seemed to take a grip on the game.
Bravo then gave Kemp a return catch as the ball was smashed back over the bowler’s head and the Red Force were tottering at 82 for five in the 15th over.
Kemp completed a brilliant spell of four overs that cost him just 22 runs while he took three wickets that had the Caribbean side on the ropes.
T&T slid deeper into trouble as they lost Sherwin Ganga lbw to Langeveldt for 11 and Denesh Ramdin bowled by Robin Peterson for 24.
At this stage, the Red Force required 33 from 17 deliveries, and this brought Cooper and Ravi Rampaul together.
The pair went on a rampage with Cooper flipping the script in the penultimate over when Dale Steyn, arguably the best fast bowler in the World, conceded 15 runs, including a six over long-off from the last delivery of the over which left the T&T needing eight from the final over.
After Rampaul was caught at long-on from the first ball of the final over from Langeveldt allowing the two batsmen to cross with the ball in the air, Cooper sliced the second ball through point for four to ease the tension.
Cooper took a single off the next delivery, a no-ball, and Sunil Narine moved T&T within one of their target with a single to long-on off the legitimate third ball before Cooper wrapped things up.
Earlier, Badree bowled Richard Levi for a second-ball duck in the first over and Rampaul had former South Africa opener Herschelle Gibbs caught at mid-off for two in the fourth over, leaving the Cobras 10 for two.
T&T’s bowling got some rough treatment, as Shah and Vilas repaired the innings, putting on 87 for the third wicket by the 15th over to set things up nicely for a final acceleration at the death. The Red Force were almost helpless, as Shah and Vilas batted with crisp assurance and although the slow pitch made stroke-making difficult, the two players bided their time while rotating the strike with nudges and pushes to keep the score moving along at a fair clip.
Narine made the breakthrough when Vilas top-edged a pull and was caught at cover and T&T fought back brilliantly in the closing over to put the brakes on the scoring as the last four overs went for just 26 as the Cobras were unable to break free.