Caribbean flair topples African utility
by Rohit Sakunia

Scorecard:Cape Cobras v Trinidad and Tobago
Player:HH Gibbs, JP Duminy, D Ganga, DJ Bravo
Event:Champions League 2009/10

DateLine: 22nd October 2009


Trinidad and Tobago, the only unbeaten team in the CL T20, continued their production of brilliant performances and oozing with Caribbean spirit knocked the Cape Cobras out of the tournament. They have set up a title clash against New South Wales tomorrow.


The game though was by no means a replica of the first semi-final. Both the teams looked heavy on one another at their moments but it was the T&T who hit the final blow, a telling one as Dwayne Bravo's first major contribution with the willow after a pathetic show with the leather, proved decisive on an expected thrilling evening.


Cobras did a lot of damage to themselves as they missed catches and run-out oppurtunties at crucial juntures. On the other hand, it was these exceptional tackling of moments that won T&T the game. They kept in chipping with Cobras wickets everytime the South African unit looked taking the ascendancy. The last over by Ravi Rampaul in which he only gave away two runs was also one such moment as JP Duminy at that time threatened to lift the target near 190. Indeed it was a game of moments and T&T undoubtedly were better in handling those.


Chasing 176 to win, T&T openers started in usual swashbuckling style. After the first over by Charl Langeveldt which went for two runs and was probably the only over given some respect, Adrian Barath and William Perkins began business as usual. The second over went for 14, third for 6, fouth for 14 again and the fifth for 15 and at the end of the fifth over, the Trinidadians were sitting pretty at 53. Unfortunately for them they lost Perkins in a bad mix-up but apart from that, not even a foot was put by them at the wrong place.


Seeing that spinner Tyron Henderson did well in his over, Puttick brought in Duminy immediately after the powerplays got over. What a change that turned out to be as the off-spinner who had done so well with the bat just 30 minutes back, struck immediately with the leather sending back Barath, trapping him plumb in front for 29. The run-flow though didn't ebb as Lendl Simmons took over from where his openers left. He sent Henderson over long-off for a huge six in the eighth over. Post this the next two overs turned out to be a nightmare for Henry Davids. He dropped Simmons twice in two overs and though the right-hander did not do much damage himself, getting out sooner for 20, the notable fact was that it was these missed chances that shifted the momentum once again towards the favour of the red coloured outfit.


Dwayne Bravo and skipper Daren Ganga combined after Simmons' fall and they batted with great alacrity and elegance taking the team home in scintillating fashion. Bravo it seemed wanted to put his bad bowling behind him and took the onus on himself to do most of the scoring as Ganga played second fiddle, by no means though did he play any bit less aggressive finishing with a strike rate of 141 as compared to 170 of Bravo.


The duo though did not start off all guns blazing from the word go. It took them three overs to get going and Bravo started the onslaught with a six of Ontong, followed by Ganga who carted Duminy for a maximum in the next over. The series of missed catches continued, this time Ontong, one of the best fielders in the Cobras outfit dropped a dolly from Bravo.


After the reprieve, Bravo didn't look back. Vernon Philander in the very next over was hit for two sixes by him. Ganga took care of Henderson in the next over hitting him for a six and a four to continue the rampage. With this, the game was in Caribbean control as only 33 were needed in the last four overs. The duo though didn't need the remaining 24 to scale the target, they finished the task in just 20, justifiably with Bravo hitting the winning runs as the red devils beat the Cobras comprehensively by seven wickets.


Earlier, after winning the toss in the evening, Cape Cobras skipper Andrew Puttick had no hesitation in opting to bat on a belter at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad. The Cobras were boosted by the return of Charl Langeveldt, a T20 specialist for the crucial game. Puttick reckoned 170 could be a good total to put pressure on the team chasing, and his batting attack provided him exactly that.


T&T, probably the most exciting team of the tournament entered the game unchanged. The confidence was visible in the eyes as Daren Ganga said he was happy to bowl, considering he didn't know what a good score on a good wicket in this format is.


Then when it came to the Cobras batting, it didn't look all that racy as none of their batsman except for JP Duminy was allowed to stay the distance by the T&T bowling. The innings was an example of some good batting, exceptional bowling (the last over by Ravi Rampaul one example of it) and inspirational fielding. Fortunately for the Cobras, they had the early momentum courtesy Herschelle Gibbs, who hit a quick 42 and that alongside Duminy's masterclass knock made sure they had a formidable score for their bowlers and fielders to defend.


First up though the Cobras took their time. Gibbs wasn't all that sure of his feet movement and he alongside Puttick took a couple of overs to get known to the turf at hand. Gibbs, had come into the match with only three runs in the tournament thus far but then cometh the hour, cometh the man. He once again rose to the occasion when the need was most and started to show his colours against Dwayne Bravo and Rampaul.


Gibbs' assault forced Daren Ganga to bring back his spin bowling brother Sherwin for his second over in as early as the fifth one of the innings. He struck immediately, bowling Puttick with the score on 30. From ther other end though the carnage continued non-stop as Gibbs steamrolled Bravo in the sixth over for 18 runs.


Then after the powerplays Dave Mohammad was immediately introduced as the Cobras by now had leapt to 54 for 1. The decision to bring the left-arm spinner yielded dividends immediately as the bowler pulled off a scintillating return catch to dismiss Henry Davids. Then started another unique method of celebration, this time he had his country's flag in his pocket and he set off with it in his hands. The guys in red could have celebrated more sooner had the third umpire not awarded Gibbs benefit of doubt in one of those close stumping cases. The incident though didn't cost them much as Gibbs was bowled by a slower ball from Pollard for 42 off 27 balls sooner.


Its surprising though as how Duminy goes about his job as though wickets kept falling from one end, JP went about his task in the most clinical manner. He had begun by attacking Mohammed, through extra cover for four and then slog-sweeping him for six, For a short while after this Kleinveldt overshadowed him as the visibly more powerful men lofted Lendl Simmons straight down the ground and looked as if had been caught by Pollard, who combined athleticism and brain to pull of an impossible catch. Pollard caught the ball on the boundary but then realized he was too close to the ropes for his comfort. He threw it back and stepped out before sprinting back, diving full length to take the catch. Then even though replays did not show the ball hitting the ground, the third umpire took the safe option and the batsman was given not out.


Kleinveldt, also though like Gibbs, did not last long after the reprieve holing out to deep midwicket. By now the stage was set for Duminy to launch. He was always maintaining a decent strike rate and now it was onto him to give Cobras a good total. He started with a flat-batted six of Sherwin Ganga and though his lower order mates could not match him, he still worked up pace taking 20 of the 19th over, bowled by a hapless looking Dwayne Bravo.


The final momentum going into the dug-out though rested with T&T as Rampaul, gave his side a last-over boost by conceding only two runs off it, limiting Cobras to 175.