A career best batting performance from Darren Bravo helped the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel recover from a poor start to secure victory over the Appleton Estate Jamaica Tallawahs in the first playoff game in the Hero Caribbean Premier League.
Chasing 153 to win, the Tallawahs lost captain Chris Gayle early and never really recovered as Dwayne Bravo extended his lead at the top of the tournament’s wicket taking charts with figures of 5-23. This win means that the Red Steel will face the Guyana Amazon Warriors in Saturday’s eliminator for a place in the final against the Barbados Tridents.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the Red Steel got off to the worst possible start. Krishmar Santokie began proceedings with the wicket of Cameron Delport who was bowled by a brilliant slower ball.
In the second over Jerome Taylor looked to have dismissed the in-form Jacques Kallis but Nikita Miller dropped a simple chance at third man.
That could have been a hugely expensive moment, but Miller had his blushes saved when Taylor induced another false shot the very next ball, Kallis chipping the ball to mid-off to leave the Red Steel 7-2. That became 18-3 when Kamran Akmal mistimed a shot off a Taylor yorker that was easily caught at mid-wicket leaving the Red Steel in very bad shape.
It took time for the innings to recover, but 15 runs off the 10th over took the Red Steel to 58-3 at the halfway stage, well placed to push on to set a competitive target. Not for the first time in this year’s Hero CPL it was Darren Bravo that was doing the business for the Red Steel. After a slow start he pushed on to his second half century for this tournament.
In a partnership of 81 with Jason Mohammed, Bravo rebuilt the flagging Red Steel effort. When Mohammed fell for an important 28, off the bowling of Narsingh Deonarine, Bravo was joined by his brother Dwayne. While Darren continued in impressive fashion Dwayne couldn’t get going, holing out on the boundary for just five.
Darren Bravo’s innings was remarkable, taking his team from potential disaster to set a total that would take something special to chase. He finished on a career best 86 not out with the Red Steel finishing on 152-6.
There was a change of approach for the Tallawahs at the top of the innings, with Sri Lankan great, Mahela Jayawardene, opening the batting with Chris Gayle.
Gayle looked to be continuing his stellar T20 form, hitting three huge Hero Maximums on his way to 30 from 21 balls. Just as he looked to be getting into full flow he top edged a slog sweep off Johan Botha which was well caught by the bowler.
The Tallawahs have been hugely reliant on Gayle and his runs, only winning this season when he has passed fifty.
Jayawardene made his highest score of the year, but it was not a significant one. He departed for 15 but he was unlucky, adjudged to have edged the ball through to the keeper when it came off his forearm.
Chadwick Walton and Jermaine Blackwood settled things down after the loss of the experienced openers. They looked to be going well in a partnership worth 31 but Dwayne Bravo, was brought back into the attack and dismissed Blackwood for 23 sparking a batting collapse.
At this same stage of last year’s competition these same two teams met and the Red Steel looked to be winning the game before a brilliant 27 ball 62 from Andre Russell won the match for the Tallawahs. The Tallawahs would have been hoping for the same when Russell was sent in at five, but there was no repeat this year as Dwayne Bravo bowled him for six.
Chadwick Walton had made his way to 31 from 29 balls but his team needed him to bat through the innings to ensure victory. When he was bowled by Kevon Cooper it left the Tallawahs needing 12 an over with two new batsmen at the crease. Two balls later Cooper repeated the trick to bowl Chris Lynn to effectively end this game as a contest.
Dwayne Bravo cleaned up the tail as he secured his first T20 five wicket haul as his side claimed victory by 27 runs with the Tallawahs losing eight wickets for 28 runs at the end of their innings.