Sunday, February 25, 2018

Red Steel start hot

Dwayne Bravo’s Red Steel made hay in the Grenada sunshine yesterday. Their disciplined bowlers took advantage of some indisciplined Barbados Tridents batting and Man-of-the-Match Ross Taylor and Darren Bravo then ensured that their side completed a seven-wicket win with little fuss.

The Red Steel completed victory at the National Cricket Stadium with 15 balls to spare, with Bravo’s 54th run completing proceedings. “It’s good to start with a win, I think that will ease some pressure on us and I am very glad the guys executed and delivered today,” skipper Dwayne Bravo said afterwards.

The Red Steel lost their first three games in the inaugural season of the LCPL last year, and Darren Bravo went through the series without a half century. But he put that right immediately this time, in partnership with Taylor (62, 51 balls, six fours, one six), who also had a lean 2013. The pair added a match-clinching 95 for the third wicket, chasing just 125 for victory, with Taylor fluent and composed right from the start and Bravo finding his rhythm as the innings progressed.

Earlier, the Tridents had briefly given themselves hope of pressing the Red Steel when Shoaib Malik removed Nasir Jamshed, first ball of the innings, caught at slip and Ravi Rampaul had Evin Lewis caught on the hook at deep backward square by Neil McKenzie.

But Kieron Pollard’s side, deprived of the all-round skills of banned Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, simply did not make enough runs after Bravo won the toss and inserted them. “We weren’t at our best today and I think Trinidad and Tobago, sorry, Red Steel deserved to win...We lost one of our biggest players in the last week or so; we had to struggle to get a replacement..We only played with two overseas players (Malik and McKenzie.)”

There was no sharp edge to the Tridents innings. They were blunted by a solid collective bowling effort by the Red Steel. The Tridents never gathered momentum after the first six powerplay overs which ended with them on 40 for one. It would have been a perfect start had Dwayne Smith not given Darren Bravo on the long-on boundary catching practice off Samuel Badree.

Shane Dowrich who shared in that opening stand with Smith, could not supply the same explosiveness as his departed partner, but his was an attractive 37 off 38 balls before he was fourth out at the start of the 16th over, bowled by Kevon Cooper, trying to get on with it.

But it was Kevin O’Brien who set the Tridents back on their heels after Dowrich and Shoaib Malik put on 34 for the second wicket. The Irishman removed Malik and South Africa veteran McKenzie in each of his first two overs, while skipper Bravo snuffed out any late innings momentum the Tridents might have gathered by removing Pollard who gave a skier of a return catch following a top-edged pull, and Jonathan Carter, caught in the midwicket region off another skier. Jason Holder with 17 off nine balls boosted the total somewhat at the end. But 124 for six was hardly going to be enough. Taylor and Bravo made sure the Red Steel cut to the chase.