PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – A ruthless Trinidad and Tobago stormed to the top of the Caribbean Twenty20 standings on Wednesday night after clobbering hapless Leeward Islands by 95 runs in a lopsided affair.
The defending champions rattled up 187 for four off their 20 overs, the highest score of the tournament, after they were sent in at Queen’s Park Oval in the night’s feature contest.
Stylish stroke-maker Darren Bravo dazzled with an unbeaten 65 from 40 balls while opener Lendl Simmons hammered a belligerent 62 from 46 balls.
Leeward Islands were never in the hunt, especially after losing two wickets in the first over of their reply, and drifted to 92 for eight to slide to their second straight defeat.
Medium pacer Kieron Pollard (2-6), leg-spinner Samuel Badree (2-13) and left-arm spinner Yannick Ottley (2-18), all finished with two wickets apiece.
With the victory, T&T moved to nine points, one ahead of Barbados, with Jamaica in third on five and Guyana fourth on four points.
They got a rollicking start from Simmons and William Perkins (19) who posted 45 off 34 balls, as the Leewards were immediately put on the back foot.
Perkins, in particular, set the tone for the innings, blasting 14 runs from the second over sent down by seamer Gavin Tonge. He lashed two fours and a majestic drive over long-off for six.
He was first to fall, however, missing a straight one from Tonito Willett (2-18) and being adjudged lbw.
His departure paved the way for an exhilarating second wicket stand between Simmons and Darren Bravo, as they engaged a run spree that saw 70 runs come from the next 52 balls.
Simmons struck five sixes, two coming in succession in the fourth over from leg-spinner Anthony Martin, while Bravo counted one four and five sixes.
The Leewards needed Chesney Hughes’s brilliant diving catch at wide mid-on to account for Simmons in the 15th over, but T&T never slowed momentum as Kieron Pollard joined Bravo to add a further 42 for the third wicket off a mere 17 balls.
Hitting straight and hard, Pollard counted three sixes and a four in 29 off 12 balls. He twice cleared the long-on fence in the 16th over bowled by Tonge that cost 17 and then combined with Bravo to extract 18 runs from the next over, as the last five overs yielded 66 runs.
Bravo was not to be left out, clearing the ropes with ease and ending the innings on a high by cracking Tonge’s last two deliveries for sixes – the first punched over long off and the second audaciously pulled over long on.
Already faced with a herculean task, the Leewards’ chase was made even more difficult when West Indies opener Kieran Powell and Willett perished in the first over from Badree.
Powell edged the first ball of the innings to Dwayne Bravo at slip before Willett was adjudged lbw to the final delivery of the over. When fast bowler Shannon Gabriel had Javia Liburd caught at the wicket, the Leewards were sinking fast at 21 for three in the fourth over.
Derbyshire professional Hughes provided a small spark with two lovely cover-driven boundaries and a straight six, in gathering 20 off 22 balls but once he edged Dwayne Bravo behind in the 10th over, any hopes of a miracle were dashed.