CHENNAI, India, CMC-IANS – A determined Trinidad & Tobago held their nerve this time, after Sunil Narine followed up a match-changing innings from Kevon Cooper with miserly off-spin bowling to snatch a dramatic, six-wicket victory over reigning champions Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League Twenty20 yesterday.
Narine earned the Man-of-the-Match award and became the tournament’s most successful bowler, when he captured three wickets for eight runs from his allotted four overs, as CSK finished on 111 for six, replying to T&T’s 123 for eight in their crucial Group-A match at the Chidambaram Stadium.
The result meant that the Red Force grabbed their first victory in the main draw of the tournament, after narrowly losing their previous two matches.
This left the Caribbean T20 champions tied with the Indian Premier League champions on two points at the bottom of the group, which the Mumbai Indians top with five points, followed by the New South Wales Blues of Australia on four and Cape Cobras of South Africa on three.
T&T face the Cobras in their final group match tomorrow (early morning – East Caribbean Time) at this same venue, seeking a victory that keeps them in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.
A late cameo from Cooper that included one four and three sixes in 28 from 10 balls beefed-up the Red Force’s total, after a few of the top-order batsmen got starts, but failed to carry on.
Williams Perkins came into the side for his first match of the tournament ahead of Jason Mohammed and hit the top score 34; Adrian Barath dropped down the order to No.4 and made 23; and Lendl Simmons typically helped give the innings early momentum with 20.
The visitors’ batting was kept in check by Australia left-arm fast bowler Doug Bollinger with three for 30 from four overs, and left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati with two for 18 from four overs.
T&T then made a wayward start to their defence, when leg-spinner Samuel Badree conceded two boundaries from the first over, after Super Kings left-handed opener Mike Hussey pulled him square and swept him fine.
Ravi Rampaul also conceded two boundaries in his first over, as Chennai began their chase on a bright note , collecting 20 from the first two overs.
Narine was brought into the attack earlier than expected, and he struck with his fifth delivery, as the hosts went off the rails.
He bowled opener Murali Vijay for six swinging and missing in the third over, and his next over, held a fine low return catch to send Suresh Raina packing for two.
Rampaul added the key scalp of Hussey caught behind off the last ball of the next over, as CSKsunk to 28 for three.
The Red Force met defiance, when Subramaniam Badrinath and Wriddhiman Saha staged a brief recovery before they were both dismissed in the space of 12 balls, leaving the Super Kings 52 for five in the 12th over.
Cooper trapped Saha lbw for eight in the 10th over, and there was no respite for the home team, when Badrinath was run out backing up too far.
With the pitch getting lower and slower, runs were coming at a premium and the asking rate kept climbing all the time.
Narine, brought back for his second spell, held a low return catch to dismiss CSK and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as Chennai slid further into quicksand.
With three overs remaining, the visitors were in control with the Super Kings needing another 48 to win with T&T and West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and South African big-hitter Albie Morkel at the crease.
There was a touch of déjà vu, when Rampaul conceded 14 from the 18th over, with Bravo smashing two boundaries leaving the home team to get 34 off 12 balls.
Cooper maintained the balance of power, coughing up only seven from the penultimate over, leaving the hosts to get 27 from the final over, bowled by Sherwin Ganga.
Though the part-time off-spinner conceded two huge sixes off the last two deliveries of the match, the Red Force held on for the victory this time.
Earlier, T&T had a sound base for their innings with Simmons and Perkins putting on 52 runs, but the Red Force seemed to lose their way, losing three wickets in as many overs, courtesy some brilliant fielding.
Perkins was just getting into the swing of things, when he was caught at point a ball after he smacked Jakati over mid-wicket for a massive six, his second of the night.
In the next over, Simmons was run out attempting a single, as Darren Bravo played Jakati to square-leg, where Saha swiftly picked up and threw to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
The Caribbean champions formally lost their way, when Bravo was caught and bowled off Jakati for one, as they slid to 57 for three in the 11th over.
The misery for the visitors continued when their captain Daren Ganga gave his hand away in the 15th over. Trying to swing off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin over mid-wicket for a third consecutive delivery, he top-edged and was caught at short mid-wicket for eight, after two attempts off the previous two deliveries fell shy of short third-man fielder Morkel.
T&T were looking desperate, when Denesh Ramdin was palpably lbw for three to Dwayne Bravo that moved back and kept low, and Adrian Barath was comprehensively beaten and bowled for 23 by Australia left-arm fast bowler Doug Bollinger next over before a flurry of boundaries from Cooper at the death beefed-up the total.