The Trinidad and Tobago Under-17’s narrow escape against the Leeward Islands in the Regional Under-17 tournament in Tobago on Monday tested the home team’s mettle.
But the two-wicket victory also and gave them the belief that they can conquer any opponent.
The Varindra Jagrup-led team will be in for another fierce battle today when they travel to Louis D’or for the second round match against the Windward Islands, who are also high in confidence following their nine-wicket demolition of Guyana at Bon Accord in round one.
The other matches today will see defending champions Jamaica up against the Leewards at Bon Accord, and Barbados taking on Guyana at Shaw Park with all matches bowling off at 9.30 a.m.
At Louis D’or, the Windwards will have experience on their side with Gidron Pope, Kyle Cabey and Daryl Cyrus all returning from their 2012 squad that finished third in the inaugural tournament.
Pope was one of their leading run scorers in 2012, and was again among the runs on Monday, hitting 32 to set up their win.
The experience of Cabey and Cyrus also showed in their victory with the Cabey hitting an unbeaten 49 off 47 balls with nine fours and a six and Cyrus taking four wickets for 15 runs.
T&T’s first victory was more dramatic, with Jameel Jeron Maniram putting out his best performance in national colours to bring home the win.
His unbeaten 78 was more than the right-hander made in four innings in last year’s tournament, and it saved T&T from defeat.
Although the pressure was on him to perform, Maniram calmly collected the required runs.
He noted that the two catches he put down, which allowed Leewards to get back into the game, was his motivation when he went out to bat.
“I looked at it and reflected on it and used it as motivation to lift my game and score runs to make up for it,” said Maniram.
“The pressure was high, we lost the top five batsmen to some poor shots and the coach (Dasrath Maharaj) said we should go out there and concentrate on simple batting, so I just put my head down and concentrated on batting on long.
“I waited on the bad balls and the short balls and when it came I was in already so I was able to put it away.”
The PowerGen batsman said he was under pressure even before the campaign started.
“I was under pressure because I was seen as one of the senior men, but I was out of form. I failed in the practice matches and I had to lift my game and come back, and I was just thinking to bring home this game and gain back some confidence to go through this tournament with high spirits,” he explained.
Maniram also praised his teammates, especially Afdal Khan, who stayed with him to ensure the win.
“Afdal helped me a great deal. He stayed and batted long. He concentrated and he did not lose focus. He did not get excited and he did not get nervous.
“He batted smart. Coach sent out a message and said it was in my hands, stay and bat and we will win.
“It was a great feeling to bring home the win and it was defiantly one of my best innings ever. It was also my first half century for Trinidad and Tobago and it came at a good time. I just want to get some good scores and contribute to the victory,” he added.
T&T Squad: Varindra Jagrup (captain), Amir Jangoo, Carl Vialva, Jyd Goolie, Clevon Kalawan, Jameel Jeron Maniram, Shaquille McDavid, Brandon Jaggernauth, Dejourn Charles, Bryan Boodram, Afdal Khan, Jarlarnie Seales, Anderson Phillip, Amrish Rampersad.
Dasrath Maharaj (coach), Stephen Martel (manager).
Today’s WICB Regional Under-17 Fixtures
(All matches start at 9.30 a.m.)
T&T vs Windward Islands, Louis D’or
Jamaica vs Leeward Islands, Bon Accord
Barbados vs Guyana, Shaw Park