Mesmerizing spells of slow bowling from talented young off-spinner Sunil Narine and veteran leg-spinner Samuel Badree, spun 10 times regional limited overs champions Trinidad and Tobago to a five-wicket victory over co-defending champions Leeward Islands, of the second Group B encounter, in the 2011 Regional Super 50 tournament yesterday, at Providence Stadium.
Trinidad recovered from their surprise defeat against Combined Campuses and Colleges on Thursday, to record their first victory of the competition while this second heavy defeat meant that Leeward Island have no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
After showers were prevalent throughout the day on Friday, the excellent drainage at Providence made a 50 overs-a-side match possible. Trinidad won the toss in mildly overcast morning conditions and elected to bowl first. The Daren Ganga-led side welcomed back star batsman Keiron Pollard into their line-up in place of medium pacer Rayad Emrit, while leg-spinner Anthony Martin replaced lanky paceman Gavin Tonge in the Leewards starting line-up.
What happened over the next 98 minutes of batting in the Leeward‘s innings, was a stark déjà vu effort of their insipid batting performance versus the Jamaicans on Thursday, when they were rolled over for 96.
This time, they fared worse, folding for 94 in 25.3 overs, as the Narine/Badree duo ran riot, taking all of the 10 wickets to tumble, to leave the Islanders totally flummoxed. Badree bowled his usual disciplined stump-to-stump length, with his range of accurate non-turning leg-breaks, while Narine relied on subtle changes of pace, length and variation to deceive his victims on a wicket that didn’t offer much assistance.
Narine made the initial strike in the sixth over with the score on 27, when left-handed opener Austin Richards Jr., was bowled for 14.
Richards Jr., had started positively with a pair of boundaries off Dwayne Bravo in the innings’ second over.
Badree then struck thrice in four overs to break the back of the Leewards Innings. He first had Montcin Hodge was caught by Narine at mid-of aiming to hit Badree over the top.
Next ball, Leewards skipper Javia Liburd perished leg-before wicket for just a single, playing defensively forward and then Steve Liburd departed for a duck playing back to a straight delivery that didn‘t turn, plunging their side into a precarious position of 35 for 3 in the 11th over.
At this stage the floodgates opened, with the Leewards losing their last seven wickets for 59 runs in 14 overs.
It was all over when Narine had number 11 Anthony Martin caught by Bravo at slip, for his sixth victim and first “List A” five-wicket haul in only his second one-day game for the Trinidad side colloquially known in recent times as the “Red-Force”.
In reply, pugnacious opener William Perkins was in his usual aggressive mood getting T&T off the mark with a stylish pull to the mid-wicket boundary.
T&T reached raced to 28-0 in the fourth over, when Perkins launched Martin into the party stand for a huge six to move to 22. But just as it seemed he was going to play a brilliant cameo, West Indies leg-spinner Martin bowled him behind his back next delivery.
Left-handed Justin Guillen who played a scratchy innings was then caught at point off former West Indies medium pacer Lionel Baker for six (6), with the score 34 for 2 in the seventh over.
T&T seemed in a hurry to finish the game off quickly with the incentive of bonus points on the menu, but lost a few quick wickets, as Martin snared four for 49 from seven overs. However, Pollard made sure Trinidad did not suffer any further hiccups, clinching the game when he slog-swept a delivery from off-spinner Justin Athanaze through mid-wicket for a powerful boundary, to finished unbeaten on 34 (20 balls, 2×4, 2×6).
The result meant Trinidad gained eight points from this victory, clinching the mandatory four points for the win plus two bowling points for dismissing the Leewards for under 150 and two batting points for scoring at a rate above six runs an over.
The Leewards defeat meant that as one of the tournament’s defending champions (the other being Barbados), they have no chance of reaching the semi-final round.
T&T will now lock horns with Jamaica tomorrow at Everest in a match that will inevitably be dubbed the “Gayle vs. Pollard” battle, to decide the group winner. At Providence simultaneously, Leewards will hope to end their disappointing title defense with a possible consolation victory.