Sunil Narine of Trinidad & Tobago celebrates bowling Chris Hartley of Brisbane Heat during match 2 of the Karbonn Smart Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 between The Brisbane Heat and Trinidad and Tobago held at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi on the 22nd September 2013
Photo by Shaun Roy-CLT20-SPORTZPICS
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Work to do for T&T
Bailed out by the bowlers. Again.
We all know that a win is a win, and that yesterday’s tournament-opening victory over the Brisbane Heat was exactly what Trinidad and Tobago needed in a tough Champions League T20 group. However if the squad led by Denesh Ramdin is to match the memorable 2009 debut campaign and get all the way to the final, significant improvement has to be made, starting tomorrow against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Defending a total of 135 for nine was never going to be easy, even if the holders of Australia’s “Big Bash” title are missing a couple of key players while the national team’s bowling stocks are significantly boosted for this year’s event by the presence of Sunil Narine.
Of course on the other hand, T&T are once again without the services of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, who are representing Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings respectively. An additional loss is all-rounder Kevon Cooper, who played a key role in helping the Rajasthan Royals clinch third spot in IPL 2013 and started this tournament on a winning note as his team got the better of Mumbai in the opening fixture of group competition on Saturday.
While the Royals consider Cooper to be indispensable, they did not require the services of Samuel Badree, who played just the first match of the last IPL season, so his role in the 25-run triumph over the Heat would have been especially satisfying as a confidence-booster. As with almost everyone else in the Trinidad and Tobago side, with the notable exception of Narine, the CLT20 is like a shop window where players put their skills on show seeking to attract a lucrative offer from one of the IPL franchises.
In that context, no-one in the batting department would have staked a claim. Ramdin played well for 48, as he did in the ill-fated qualifying phase of the same event last year in South Africa, but the glut of T20 talent all over the world means that someone has to produce something really special to sway the IPL franchise bidders at the next auction early in 2014.
If any of them were focusing their attention on yesterday’s first encounter in Ranchi in pursuit of options to boost their squads, they would have been disappointed. Apart from the captain’s contribution in lifting his team to a respectable, although not intimidating total by any means, the next best effort was opener Evin Lewis’ 19. That he was preferred at the top of the order alongside Lendl Simmons sends another message to Adrian Barath that his game remains a work in progress and the selectors are no longer prepared to gift him a place in the final 11 on the basis of what he achieved previously at the highest level for the West Indies before his technique and form went completely awry.
That said, if the batting were to struggle again tomorrow, whatever the result against a Sunrisers team led by exciting Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan and including West Indies T20 and Test captain Darren Sammy, then alterations will have to be effected ahead of the final two group matches next week against the Titans of South Africa and the Super Kings. That duel with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Mike Hussey and other notable names on October 2 will be the very last preliminary match ahead of the semi-finals, so it is possible that a lot will be riding on that fixture.
While it is unthinkable that Dwayne will not be doing battle with little brother in nine days’ time, Darren needs to work on his technique against fast, short-pitched bowling immediately, for it is obvious that opponents are intent on exploiting an area of vulnerability. West Indies teammate Kemar Roach wasted no time in testing out Bravo with one at pace into the body and the lobbed catch to wicketkeeper Chris Hartley before he had scored will be duly noted by the Sunrisers spearheads Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma ahead of tomorrow’s clash in Mohali.
Simmons looked to be in rip-roaring form in taking three consecutive fours off Alister McDermott, only to drag the next delivery back onto his stumps. He always appears to have all the tools, but needs the runs on the big stage for his team’s and his own sake. Jason Mohammed has gone backwards since breaking into the West Indies One-Day International squad in India two years ago, while all the hype surrounding Nicolas Pooran could dissipate into nothing if the soon-to-be 18-year-old fails to appreciate that the brevity of T20 cricket doesn’t mean necessarily swiping at almost every delivery.
Thank goodness then for the combined effectiveness of the bowling combination. In rebounding from yet another injury setback, Ravi Rampaul’s pace and accuracy extinguished the Heat after Narine’s two wickets in his final over triggered the slump from a relatively comfortable position. Badree and Emrith bowled as well as they usually do in these situations, however Ramdin and the other selectors may have to consider whether the pace and lower-order hitting of a Navin Stewart may be a greater asset than off-spinning all-rounder Sherwin Ganga.
Granted there were significant challenges with heavy dew under the lights yesterday, but the high-scoring second match of the double-header, in which Chennai reached a target of 186 set by the Titans with more than an over to spare, suggests that the Trinidad and Tobago batsmen need to step up their game when the bowlers face sterner challenges in the coming days.