Hyderabad: Winning the Caribbean T20 wasn't enough this time, but former finalists Trinidad & Tobago roared back into the Champions League main draw with a walloping of the England champions Leicestershire. Lendl Simmons and Adrian Barath put together T&T's highest partnership in Twenty20 cricket, and the bowlers strangulated the Leicestershire batsmen into throwing their wickets away on a slow track.
T&T came across as the more aware side: while T&T batsmen exploited slow legs in the field (Leicestershire's average age is 30.4), the Leicestershire top order didn't appreciate the fact that Samuel Bardee doesn't turn the ball. Badree cleaned the stumps up twice while bowling the most economical four-over spell in Champions League history, 4-1-7-2. The Leicestershire attack offered lengths batsmen could get under and the pace to use, whereas the T&T opened the bowling with spin, and apart from Ravi Rampaul there was no pace on offer.
Leicestershire would have known pace was not going to work from the way their captain Matthew Hoggard sent the first ball of the day through to Paul Nixon on the second bounce. Simmons went too hard at the start, survived the odd miss-hit, but stayed long enough to hurt Leicestershire. The key feature of his innings was the way he put behind him the miss-hits and plays and misses. In the first four overs he survived a bottom edge and a top edge, but he also kept hitting fours to reach 25 off 20.
Barath was more orthodox and correct in his effort, opening up only in the ninth over when he lofted Claude Henderson's left-arm spin for six over long-off. That took him to 27 off 22; Simmons had reached 40 already. The next eight overs featured more hard running, the odd boundary, fifties for both, and at 139 after 17 overs T&T were set to tee off. Both fell to top edges off successive deliveries, but Darren Bravo averted the hat-trick and lofted two exquisite sixes in the last over. Despite those two wickets, T&T managed 29 in the last three.
Joshua Cobb began the chase with a four first ball, but Andrew McDonald summed up the effort. Twice he was cramped up by Badree's sliders before he went back to cut, and was bowled. Rampaul continued his good form, taking two in his two overs: one a hole-out to deep cover, and the other a wild swing from Wayne White, leaving the stumps exposed. Will Jefferson too played Badree for the turn and lost his leg stump.
Sunil Narine, on the surface an innocuous little off-spinner, bowls a smart leg-cutter, flicked almost like the now-famous carrom ball. The leg-cutter got rid of Paul Nixon, and 20 for 5 in the sixth over left too much of a task even for the quintessential Twenty20 player, Abdul Razzaq.The talented James Taylor fought for 56 off 47, but there wasn't much he could have done to reverse the result.