Trinidad & Tobago has always believed that Dwayne Bravo is a very, very special player. And, he did not disappoint the team with a vintage knock, after miserably failing with the ball, to fashion his team’s entry into the final with an impressive, seven-wicket win over Cape Cobras in the second semifinal of the Airtel-Champions League Twenty20 championship at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
Bravo (58 not out, 34b, 4x4, 3x6) batted as well as he can, playing some extravagant strokes. He pulled left-arm spinner Claude Henderson with ease into the stands and then carted fast bowler Vernon Philander straight for another huge one.
Apparently, inspired by the brilliance of Bravo, his captain Daren Ganga (44 not out, 31b, 1x4, 2x6) displayed wonderful stroke-play to put on a match-winning, unbeaten 93-run stand off just 55 balls.
Quite aptly, it was ‘Man-of-the-Match’ Bravo, who hit the winning boundary pulling Rory Kleinveldt to the mid-wicket fence to trigger celebrations in the Trinidad camp.
It was a combination of class and timing from Bravo, who joined Ganga with the score reading 85 for three in 10.1 overs, which changed the course of the game. None of the bowlers was able to make any impression on them. Even the usually reliable Cobras fielders dropped simple catches.
The start was sensational with opener Adrian Barath clobbering fast bowler Monde Zondeki over covers for a huge six and slashing Kleinveldt over third man for another one even as his partner Williams Perkins picked four fours at the other end.
Earlier, Dwayne Bravo was a terrible disappointment — bowling short and conceding 46 runs in three overs.
First, it was Herschelle Gibbs (42, 27b, 5x4, 1x6) who went after him, especially in his second over picking four fours. Then, the in-form Jean-Paul Duminy (61 not out, 40b, 4x4, 3x6) flicked to the fence and swung him into the stands for a huge six. It was his controlled aggression which saw the team post a challenging total.
The pick of the bowlers for Trinidad was Lendl Simmons in the middle-overs and most importantly, fast bowler Ravi Rampaul, who conceded just two runs in the final over.
Gibbs looked good for the first time in the championship but fell to a poor stroke — pulling a ball which kept a trifle low from Kieron Pollard to be clean bowled.
But, before that left-arm spinner Dave Mohammad took a dream catch, leaping to his right of his own bowling like a soccer goalkeeper to the delight of the Trinidad camp to send back the dangerous Henry Davids.
One of the highlights of Trinidad brilliant fielding was when Pollard made a spectacular attempt to take a catch at long-off when Ontong tried to clear Dave Mohammad. Sensing that he was about to cross the line, he threw the ball in the playing area and charged forward to make a great diving effort only to touch the ball to the ground, to the relief of Cobras camp at 127 for four in 14.5 overs. But Ontong did not last long, departing in the next over.
Cape Cobras: A. Puttick b S. Ganga 10, H. Gibbs b K. Pollard 42, H. Davids c & b D. Mohammed 7, J.P. Duminy (not out) 61, R.R. Kleinveldt c Pollard b L. Simmons 21, J. Ontong c N. Stewart b L. Simmons 7, V. Philander (not out) 13, Extras: (lb-4, w-10) 14; Total: (for five wkts. in 20 overs) 175.
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-57, 3-82, 4-116, 5-130.
Trinidad & Tobago bowling: S. Ganga 4-0-28-1, Rampaul 3-0-19-0, Dwayne Bravo 3-0-46-0, Mohammad 3-0-27-1, Pollard 3-0-24-1, Stewart 1-0-10-0, Simmons 3-0-17-2.
Trinidad & Tobago: W. Perkins (run out) 20, A. Barath lbw b Duminy 29, L Simmons c Kleinveldt b Ontong 20, D. Ganga (not out) 44, Dwayne Bravo (not out) 58, Extras: (nb-1, w-6) 7; Total: (for three wkts. in 19.2 overs) 178.
Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-58, 3-85.
Cape Cobras bowling: Langeveldt 4-0-27-0, Zondeki 2-0-30-0, Kleinveldt 2.2-0-31-0, Henderson 4-0-32-0, Duminy 4-0-30-1, Ontong 2-0-14-1, Philander 1-0-14-0.