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Early exit

Adrian Barath

Regional T20 cricket champions Trinidad and Tobago crashed out of the Champions League in South Africa today without even getting the opportunity to take the field in the group competition.

Forced to qualify for the group stage in the lop-sided tournament that favours teams from India, South Africa and Australia, Trinidad and Tobago were beaten by English County Yorkshire by six wickets at Centurion Park.

It was a bitter pill for the Trinbagonians who, after a meaningless second qualifier tomorrow, must return to the Caribbean while Indian Premier League teams Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils that won no domestic titles this year, have gained automatic qualification for the main tournament. The Perth Scorchers out of Australia also gained automatic entry into the group stage despite not winning their domestic T20 competition. The Lions of South Africa are also into the main draw despite not winning their domestic competition.

The twin-island republic’s speedy exit from South Africa comes in the wake of developments that saw them almost not catch the plane to Africa in the first place. The five Trinidadian players on the West Indies team at the just concluded ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka had asked their union, WIPA, to demand more money from their domestic board to make the South Africa trip.

The players demanded that the TTCB give them a share of the transfer fee they got for Indian Premier League players Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard. The TTCB got $150,000 for each of the three players.

The board refused the players’ demand and they were replaced. The crisis was however averted and the five players in Sri Lanka travelled to South Africa in time for the tournament.

Each player will be paid US$20 000 for the two qualifiers but have lost out on an additional $200 000 if they had advanced to the main draw.

On the field of play, after winning the toss Trinidad and Tobago struggled initially and lost three early wickets in the process in openers Lendl Simmons, William Perkins and the declining Adrian Barath to make it 8 for three. They then recovered through captain Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo.

Ramdin needed to redeem himself after some questionable decisions. First he chose to bat on a moist, sticky pitch. Then he came in to bat at No. 5, which seemed quite early. But he responded with a brilliant counterattack and Bravo provided solidity at the other end.

Ryan Sidebottom and Steven Patterson kept the pressure on, but Yorkshire had only three seamers to use. From the moment they brought the spinners on, Bravo and Ramdin batted with freedom.

Adil Rashid opened the floodgates in the 10th over, first staying away from bowling legbreaks, and then dragging them half-way down when he did bowl them. The two legbreaks in his first over went for four and six, and T&T were away. That over started a spell of six overs that went for 63 runs. There were the elegant drives from Bravo, and improvisation from Ramdin, who hardly played any dots.

Rashid brought Yorkshire back, though, as Bravo played a mistimed loft just before he could reach his fifty. Despite two run-outs after that, the T&T lower order kept going, making it 111 in the last 11 overs and an overall 147. Sidebottom starred with 3 for 13.

Early damage

The second part of the match also got off to a familiar start. Samuel Badree got a left-hand batsman grazing the stumps, Ravi Rampaul troubled the top order with some heavy balls, and Yorkshire threatened to disintegrate under the pressure of the chase. However, they had also exhausted seven of their eight overs. At 51 for 4, T&T needed one of their lesser bowlers to step up after the good work.

It wasn’t to be.

Rashid started the turnaround with back- to-back fours off medium-pacer Rayad Emrit in the 10th over. The big-hitting Gary Balance then took over, targeting the lesser bowlers ruthlessly. By the time Ramdin was forced to use Lendl Simmons, the game was clearly slipping away. And when Balance hoisted Simmons for two sixes in the 16th over, only 31 were left to get in the last four overs. Rampaul’s one remaining over was too few to make a difference.

Balance and Rashid added 103 for the fifth wicket and that was basically Trinidad and Tobago’s plane ticket home. Between them Rampaul and Badree went for 44 in eight overs, but Yorkshire plundered 110 of the remaining 10.5.

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