Trinidad and Tobago have every right to be labelled as favourites heading into today’s NAGICO Super50 final against Barbados at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain bowling off at 2 p.m.
The hosts are coming off the seven wicket demolition of past champions Jamaica in the seminal on Wednesday and before that, they beat the Combined Campuses and Colleges by the same margin and in both instances their opponents failed to reach triple figures.
Even after all of that, T&T remained grounded with skipper Dwayne Bravo saying “I don’t think we are favourites.”
“Some people might think we will win but as a team, we respect the Bajan side and we expect a very good final...Honestly I believe we are the two best teams in the tournament so far hence the reason we are in the final,” Bravo told the media yesterday.
Barbados reached the final after surviving a scare to beat the Leewards by four wickets in their final group game before defeating Guyana by seven wickets with four overs remaining in the other semifinal on Thursday.
“It is going to be a very good final,” said Bravo.
“Barbados beat us in the first round but I think the team that copes better under all the pressure in the final will win. The two best teams are in the final and we (the T&T team) strive on these kinds of competition and these kind of moments. It is another opportunity for us to win another tournament but this one is definitely going to be a hard one,” he added.
So far the T&T batting has not been tested with any big chases except for the first game when they fell short of Barbados’ 269 for eight by 28 runs.
But Bravo has faith in his batting line-up which he says could give T&T the edge.
“Our strength is our all-round ability. We have very good batters and a very good bowling attack in seam bowlers and medium pacers and spin bowlers as well so our strength is our all-round ability to adjust to any condition and any situation.
“Our top six batters have international experience and I think if you look at both teams, that is where maybe T&T might have an edge in terms of the batting department,” he added.
“But having said that, both teams’ strength is their bowling attack,” the T&T skipper explained.
The Barbados attack will be led by pacers Fidel Edwards and Jason Holder with spinners Sulieman Benn and Ashley Nurse providing potent spin options.
T&T however, have Ravi Rampaul, skipper Bravo, Rayad Emrit, Kevon Cooper and Sunil Narine to call on.
The Bajan skipper Kevin Stoute is wary of the T&T bowling attack but is confident his players, especially the in-form Dwayne Smith can handle it.
“They have more ammunition in their armoury and that is Sunil Narine. Obviously they are going to come at us harder and that (Narine) is their trump card, so once we continue to play smart cricket and do the correct things right, we should come out on top again,” Stoute added.
The Barbados captain also praised Smith’s maturity and said the aggressive opening batsman along with fast bowler Edwards will be key figures in their quest for victory.
“I must compliment Dwayne Smith for the way he batted in this tournament. He has shown a lot of maturity and that is a bonus for this Barbados side. Fidel was bowling well from the beginning of the tournament and those are the key guys we will be banking on along with the other guys,” Stoute explained.
He also noted that the final itself will be a high pressure situation and whoever can perform under those circumstances will come out as champions.
A full house is expected at the Oval today and the venue may well resemble a sea of red if the call by Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath is heeded. Yesterday he appealed to the T&T public to wear red in support of the national team.
Bassarath said: “The Red Force has been the dominant cricket team in the T20 format but tomorrow’s (today’s) final is a chance for us to start a new streak of domination in the 50 overs with a victory in the NAGICO Super50 final. We are asking all of T&T to wear red in support, whether at the game, home or in the office.”
Stoute said while the fans could have an impact, “we can’t focus on the crowd. We have to create our own atmosphere and hype (on the field).
“It is a fair cricket pitch. If you bowl well, in good areas you get results and if you bat well and apply yourself you will score runs. We have to stick to the basics and do everything right and put Trinidad under pressure...whoever cracks first under pressure is likely to come out on the losing end.”
T&T: Dwayne Bravo (Captain), Adrian Barath, Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Jason Mohammed, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Rayad Emrit, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Imran Khan, Yannick Ottley, Shannon Gabriel, Kevon Cooper; Kelvin Williams (coach), Manohar Ramsaran (manager)
BARBADOS: Kevin Stoute (Captain), Sulieman Benn, Tino Best, Rashidi Boucher, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Shane Dowrich (wicketkeeper), Fidel Edwards, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Dwayne Smith, Kenroy Williams; Hendy Springer (coach)