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Best, Brathwaite bash Leewards

West Indies fast bowler Tino Best was at his best against the Leeward Islands last night, as he snatched four for 26 in his team's nine-wicket win over the Leeward Islands in their Caribbean Twenty opening match at Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain yesterday to give his team the easy target of 88.

But it was the little-known left-handed opener Justin Brathwaite who stole the show, smashing four sixes and three fours in an aggressive 42 off just 17 balls to set up the big win, as Barbados reached 91 for one in 8.2 overs.

After Best helped restrict the Leewards to 87 for nine off 17.3 overs of their reduced 18 overs, Brathwaite took apart the Leewards' bowling, starting with right-arm pacer Kelbert Walters in the second over of the chase.

Barbados scored just four in the first over before Brathwaite assaulted Walters's bowling, smashing the pacer for two straight fours, followed by consecutive sixes—the first over long on and the second over the square leg fence.

Twenty-two runs came off the over as Barbados raced to 26 without loss after two overs.

The hits kept coming as Brathwaite's opening partner Dwayne Smith, not to be outdone, went after Anthony Martin, depositing the leg-spinner's first delivery over the mid-wicket boundary for his first six.

The Barbados captain, Smith, followed up with two more fours in the over as the Bajans progressed to 40 after three overs.

Then Brathwaite deposited Rahkeem Cornwall on top of the KFC Stand, and followed that with another big hit over mid-wicket. By the time he was out, the match was all but over with Barbados 65 for one in the fifth over..

Smith (36 not out off 21 balls) and Ryan Hinds (13 off 13 balls) finished proceddings, sending a strong message to the other teams in the competition, particularly Jamaica who they face in today's 4 p.m. match at the same venue.

When the Leewards batted, Best rocked their innings by sending back key batsman Kieran Powell, caught by Ashley Nurse off the first ball of the match.

Leewards were three for 18 in the fifth over and did not look like they would make 50, but Chesney Hughes smashed 34 off 23 balls, with two sixes and four fours, to ensure they had a total to defend.

But he had not support with all the other batsmen failing to get into double figures against a potent Barbados bowling attack, which included medium pacer Carlos Brathwaite, left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn and all-rounder Smith.

The Leewards will have a day off today to get their act together before they face another tough prospect in defending champions Trinidad and Tobago from 8 p.m. tomorrow.

–Roger Seepersad

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