GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC):
Defending champions Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) cruised into the final of the Caribbean Twenty20 after nonchalantly dismissing a timid challenge from Barbados on 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, 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. They lie fourth on eight points with one game left against Windward Islands on Thursday.
The Windwards and Guyana, who clash in the final game of the preliminaries today, also have eight points but have two games remaining.
Winning the toss and batting, Barbados showed no serious attacking intent and 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.
Medium pacer Rayad Emrit claimed two for 14 from four frugal overs, with leg-spinner Samuel Badree also strangling the Barbadian batsmen with four mean overs that yielded just 15 runs.
reshuffled batting order
A reshuffled batting order failed to improve Barbados' start as makeshift opener Carlos Brathwaite (2) edged Badree behind in the second over with the score on four for one.
Dowrich, promoted to number three, joined Justin Brathwaite to add 39 for the second wicket, with both batsmen looking to play positively. The left-handed Brathwaite hit three fours and a six over long on off Sunil Narine in the off-spinner's first over while Dowrich counted two fours.