Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mind game

T&T manager: We need to play smart vs Guyana


Wood!: Trinidad and Tobago opening batsman Lendl Simmons, right, whacks this delivery hard as Leeward Islands wicketkeeper Devon Thomas braces during their Caribbean Twenty20 match at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, on Wednesday evening. Simmons blasted 62 as T&T won by 95 runs. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Nothing more than a mind game.

That's how Trinidad and Tobago manager Omar Khan sees the national team's crucial upcoming clash with Guyana tomorrow night at Queen's Park Oval.

Khan was pleased with his team's domineering 95-run win against Leeward Islands, which put them on top of the seven-team standings pending last night's late clash between Barbados and Guyana. And with little between Guyana and the defending champs in their last home match before the tournament proceeds to St Lucia, he told the Express yesterday that the mental game will make all the difference.

"Who plays the smartest cricket to assess the play and adjust to the different conditions on the given day, they will come out on top," Khan predicted.

The T&T manager was "very happy" with their "clinical performance", as T&T fulfilled their plans to snatch a big win over the cellar-placed Leewards. He praised Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo for dashing half centuries, as well as Kieron Pollard's fierce 21-ball 29.

"We know we have the quality of players who could really lift our games to the highest..." Khan said. "Not all games you will be able to (dominate the opposition)…then we (also) have tougher opposition (to come).

"That was our aim, when we get the opportunity to be clinical, to prove we can shut down sides and demolish them."

That was exactly how they treated Sylvester Joseph and his men, pummelling them for a tournament high 187 for four before unravelling the Leewards' batting.

Samuel Badree started the slide, picking up Kieran Powell first ball, caught by Dwayne Bravo at slip, and Tonito Willett lbw with the last as he opened the T&T bowling.

Shannon Gabriel was a bit inconsistent with his line and length but induced an edge from No.3 bat Javia Liburd to leave Leewards reeling at 21 for three.

Chesney Hughes was the only Leewards batsman scoring near a run a ball (20 off 22 balls). But after stroking fours to cover and backward point and driving Dwayne Bravo back overhead for six, he perished next ball, edging a ball a bit wider to T&T captain, wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

Joseph (16, 25 balls, one four, one six) tried to bring his team back in it. But Sunil Narine's first over, the ninth of the innings, summed up the Leewards' night. Joseph played at and missed every single delivery for the match's first maiden.

However, he roughed up Ottley in the 11th over, which cost 13, but was eventually victim of Pollard's first ball next over. The all-rounder also dismissed Devon Thomas in the same manner. Ottley then returned to remove Shane Burton (zero) and Justin Athanaze (three), both lbw.

Jahmar Hamilton (14 not out) and Gavin Tonge (seven not out) saw out the innings, but they could do no more than reduce the margin of defeat to below 100.

It may have been a serious case of déjà vu for the Leewards after they sent T&T to bat. At no time, barring the first economical over bowled by Anthony Martin that went for just two runs, did they look like exerting some control over the contest.

Last year T&T stacked up tournament records against the Leewards–scoring the highest total, 211 and recording the biggest margin of victory–167 runs.

Leewards were also dismissed for the lowest total in CT20 (44) and T&T hit the most sixes in a match (15).

On Wednesday, the T&T batsmen made merry again. The four wickets lost had little impact on the flow of runs when the hosts batted as T&T produced not only the highest score of the tournament so far, but also the greatest number of sixes in an innings (14), the highest number of wicketkeeper dismissals by skipper Ramdin (four), and the two biggest sixes flowing off the bats of Pollard (96 metres) and Darren Bravo (94m) respectively.

Opener William Perkins started the rout, smashing pacer Tonge for two fours and a six in the second over. Man-of-the-Match Simmons responded with a big hit over midwicket in Tonge's next over, then roughed up Martin with successive sixes in the next one.

Perkins went soon after, lbw to Willett, but Simmons kept going with the help of the younger Bravo. Simmons smashed two more sixes in his 62 off 46 balls before Burton had him pulling to Hughes at midwicket.

His departure only brought Kieron Pollard to the crease to a standing ovation, and he obliged the crowd in 12 balls, before he was caught going for a fourth six at midwicket.

Tonge bowled a good length, Pollard lifted him over long-on. He bowled fuller next ball and the result was the same.

Pollard also helped Burton over long-off before departing for 29.

Although Dwayne Bravo (three) was perhaps unfortunately adjudged lbw to Willett, his younger brother powered the last two balls for six off Tonge, who went wicket-less in four overs for 58 runs.

The total proved much too much for the Leewards, who desperately need a win over Jamaica today to remain in the tournament.