Thursday, February 22, 2018

T&T keep runs, T20 records flowing at home


JUBILANT: Trinidad and Tobago medium pacer Kevon Cooper (second from right) celebrates a wicket with teammates (from left to right) skipper Denesh Ramdin, Rayad Emrit, and Darren Bravo during Trinidad and Tobago's Caribbean T20 match at Queen's Park Oval Saturday evening. T&T won the match by 80 runs. —Photo: ROBERT TAYLOR

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Tens of thousands showed up at the Oval on Saturday night to support Trinidad and Tobago in their campaign for the third successive Caribbean Twenty20 title and they were not disappointed.

With the Queen's Park Oval stands overflowing with spectators, the home team gave them reason to cheer.

T&T made 191 for four before restricting their opponents to 111 for six in a match that was expected to be a lot closer that it turned out to be.

The hosts eventually won by 80 runs, which was the second largest margin of victory in the tournament, the largest being T&T's 95-run hiding of the Leeward Islands.

Ten sixes sounded in the T&T innings, five off the bat of Kieron Pollard, who got a standing ovation accompanied by loud roars from the capacity crowd when he finally came out to bat for the last four and a half overs of the T&T innings.

And ever the showman, Pollard obliged. He smashed an unbeaten 44 off 17 balls, and the crowd praised him for every one of the sixes that disappeared into the stands.

He also had the Queen's Park Cricket Club members in the Brian Lara Pavilion running for cover with a massive strike that went over the Joey Carew Balcony, almost clearing the towering building.

Darren Bravo was also given a standing ovation for his second unbeaten half century of the tournament—82 off 51 deliveries—which led T&T to the highest total of the tournament, and which took the left hander to the top of the batting charts with the most runs (164) and the most sixes (ten) in the tournament so far.

That gave the fans all the energy they needed to continue the fete all through the night.

The noise was deafening when the T&T players first arrived to the ground to do their warm-ups and the crowd continued the load chants right through the T&T innings.

The Bravo brothers Dwayne and Darren got the crowd on their feet first up with chants of "Bravo…Bravo…Bravo" ringing out from the stands and the crowd got involved in the game.

The crowd would probably been heard from as far away as St James. Even the media box was abuzz as T&T batted Guyana out of the contest.

And the crowd could have even been bigger, had the gates not been closed, with hundreds of fans being turned away.

Reports even suggested that some legitimate ticket holders probably coming in just in time for the 8 p.m. start could not get into the venue.

Scalpers also "eat ah food" as they say, selling tickets on the day between $200 and $350, with some reports suggesting that some tickets went for as much as $500, as everyone wanted to get in on the action.

For those who paid the inflated price of admission, they would have gotten their money's worth.

The T&T players completed the win and took one final victory lap as team in front their home crowd knowing that this most likely will be the final appearance of the "Red Force" at home in the Caribbean T20, which will be replaced with the Caribbean Premier League franchise tournament from next year.

Many will also be travelling to St Lucia this week to follow T&T's exploits as they tackle the Windward Islands on Tuesday night and then Barbados on Wednesday night to finish off their group campaign at Beausejour Cricket Ground, Gros Islet.

The defending champions are currently at the top of the standing with 13 points from three wins and one abandoned match, and if the form they displayed so far continues this week, they just might to go all the way to Sunday's final in St Lucia.