BASSETERRE, St Kitts, CMC – Barbados Tridents stormed into the final of the Caribbean Premier League here Sunday after whipping title-holders Jamaica Tallawahs by 88 runs in a dramatic final game of the preliminary round.
Opting to bat first at Warner Park, Tridents were lifted to 175 for eight off their 20 overs by inspirational captain Kieron Pollard who smashed 63 from 36 balls.
Leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis (2-15), off-spinner Ashley Nurse (2-16) and seamer Rayad Emrit (2-29) then all took two wickets apiece as Tallawahs never recovered from a position of eight for two in third over, and collapsed to an embarrassing 87 all out off 15.3 overs.
The victory left Tridents, Tallawahs, Guyana Amazon Warriors and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel all level on 12 points. However, Tridents topped the standings courtesy of a superior net run rate, with Amazon Warriors second, Red Steel third and Tallawahs fourth.
In Wednesday’s first playoff, Red Steel will take on Tallawahs, with the winners taking on Amazon Warriors the following day, for a place in next Saturday’s final against Tridents.
St Lucia Zouks, who finished fifth and Antigua Hawksbills, who were last, were already eliminated.
Tridents played purposefully from the start, with openers William Perkins and Dwayne Smith putting on 35 from 34 deliveries.
Perkins struck 36 from 32 balls with two fours and two sixes while Smith stroked 32 off 27 balls with four fours and a six.
However, seamer Rusty Theron, who finished with four for 35, and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, who picked up two for 22, combined to run through the top order and reduce Tridents to 57 for three in the ninth over.
Smith was first to go, brilliantly taken in the deep by the excellent Andre Russell off Vettori and Shoaib Malik followed for three in the eighth over, holing out to Russell at long on, again off Vettori.
When left-hander Raymon Reifer skied Theron to Dave Bernard for three in the next over, the Tridents had lost their way.
Pollard then arrived to play a skipper’s knock, anchoring two critical stands to rally his side. He first put on 41 for the fourth wicket with Perkins before adding a further 57 for the fifth wicket off just 26 balls with Mendis who got 17.
The right-handed Pollard crunched four fours and five sixes, starting quietly before exploding. He took 20 runs from a Russell over, the 17th of the innings, smashing a four and then two leg-side sixes, as he passed 50 off 28 balls.
He finally departed in the penultimate over, bowled by Theron with a slower ball, with Tridents on 161 for six.
Tallawahs had a nightmare start as dangerous openers Chris Gayle (1) and Chadwick Walton (5) fell cheaply. Seamer Ravi Rampaul trapped the left-handed Gayle lbw on the crease with a full length delivery in the second over and Walton tickled a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Perkins off pacer Jason Holder, off the first ball of the next over.
Nkrumah Bonner revived the innings with a top score of 47, facing 40 balls and striking three fours and two sixes, while adding a crucial 39 for the third wicket with Adam Voges (10).
Once Voges failed to beat a throw at the non-striker’s end and was run out in the eighth over, the last eight wickets tumbled spectacularly for 40 runs.