l GROS ISLET
Defending champions Trinidad and Tobago cruised into the final of the Caribbean Twenty20 after nonchalantly dismissing a timid challenge from Barbados here Wednesday night.
Set a woefully inadequate target of 102 for victory at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium, T&T wobbled briefly before getting home by five wickets and finishing their preliminary round campaign unbeaten.
Opener Lendl Simmons top scored with 36 from 23 balls to set up Trinidad's victory, staging a 45-run, first wicket stand off 32 balls with rookie Evin Lewis who stroked 24 in his first match of the tournament.
While T&T finished atop the standings with 21 points, the defeat left Barbados with only a slim chance of reaching the playoffs with their third straight loss.
Winning the toss and batting, Barbados meandered painfully to 101 for six off their 20 overs, with all-rounder Ashley Nurse punching an unbeaten 24 down the order while opener Justin Brathwaite (22) and Shane Dowrich (21) chipped in with useful scores.
Captain Dwayne Smith dithered 14 balls before Emrit had him trapped lbw in the 15th over, while the left-handed Kyle Mayers skied to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin three balls later to fall for four, with five runs added.
With Barbados floundering, Nurse came to his side's aid, hitting two fours and a six in a brisk 19-ball knock, eking precious runs out at the death.
Barbados were always up against it, however, once Simmons and Lewis ensured there was no early loss of wickets. Simmons played with abandon and his 23-ball knock was laced with four fours and two sixes while the left-handed Lewis hit three fours off 27 balls. He was marching along merrily when he upper cut seamer Carlos Brathwaite in the sixth over for Mayers to take a well-judged running catch at third man.
Darren Bravo mis-timed a pull to mid-on off medium pacer Smith in the eighth over to fall for nine at 65 for two.
Smith then created some controversy when he ran out Dwayne Bravo (3) on delivery as the all-rounder backed up too far. Three balls later, Lewis failed to beat Edwards' throw from backward point and was also run out attempting a quick single.
Barbados scented a collapse but T&T never appeared flustered, and captain Ramdin (ten not out) and Kieron Pollard (15) calmly carried the score to within one of the target before being separated. –CMC