T&T tackle Pollard’s Indians
Trinidad and Tobago have been a dark horse in the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) since the first season when they surprised all by making the final.
The team from the Caribbean have been making regular appearances in the tournament ever since and this time they have secured a place in the semifinals.
After beating the Chennai Super Kings in the last Group game by eight wickets, T&T will now take on the IPL champions Mumbai Indians in the second semi-final in Delhi today from 10.30 a.m. (TT Time), and coach David Williams is quietly confident of drubbing yet another Indian Premier League giant.
“We’ve always been a team that plays well together,” Williams said. “We have a history in this tournament and we’ve given a good account of ourselves right since the first edition. We know what the CLT20 is all about and we know what standard we need to produce to win,” said the T&T coach.
Like many other foreign teams, T&T have never been able to put their best team in the park, due to missing some of their key players’ services to various IPL teams. However, Williams said that his side have come to terms with the situation and have become adept at handling it.
“When you have the likes of Evin Lewis come to the party and perform as well as he did, it helps the team in the absence of big players. You expect your senior players to do well but when the juniors stand up too, that’s an addition.
“Yes, we miss Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, and Kevon Cooper is gone now too. But we’re used to it now as it’s been happening to us for years. The other guys are stepping up to the plate and that’s good news for us,” the coach said.
While the unknown players are making their presence felt, the key to T&T’s bowling remains Sunil Narine.
Williams said Narine’s four overs mess with the minds of the opposition, which benefits the other bowlers.
“The opposition always looks to play Narine out and not give him a wicket. So, his four overs are very crucial and it puts a lot of pressure on the batting side. They try and take the advantage off the other bowlers and lose wickets in doing so.
“We have three bowlers--Samuel Badree, Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine--who were part of the World Twenty20 winning West Indies side. With 12 overs up their sleeves among themselves, we are generally confident of defending 150-160,” the coach said.
Slow bowling being T&T’s area of expertise, Williams said they are happy to be playing their semi-final on the Feroz Shah Kotla track rather than the seaming wicket in Jaipur.
“This pitch is more like home; we’re accustomed to that sort of low bounce and skiddy pitch and we prefer to play the big game here.”
Being the only non-IPL team in the top four, T&T have already proved their superiority over the other foreign teams in the competition.
“Many people didn’t give us a chance to be here. Getting into the semi-final in itself is a big achievement for us, and irrespective of what happens now, I’ll still be very, very proud of my guys,” the coach said.
T&T’s Mumbai Indians all-rounder Kieron Pollard believes IPL experience will work in his team’s favour against T&T.
“Ramdin’s men know my game well but I know theirs too, so it’s going to be interesting this Saturday,” Pollard said.
“Their batters are in form but our bowling and fielding have been disciplined. It will be a cracker.”
Pollard has become a key member of the Mumbai Indians since joining the franchise in 2010.
He played an integral part in the team’s Champions League triumph in 2011, as well as their 2013 IPL success, in May.
“Four years with Mumbai Indians has been a learning experience for me,” said Pollard. “The best part is that players come and go in other teams, but at Mumbai Indians the core of the team has been same for the last four years, and we have enjoyed each other’s success.”