‘We proved we are the best in the Caribbean’ - Pollard elated after dominant Red Force Super50 triumph
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC):
Ace opener Lendl Simmons blazed an imperious hundred as a dominant Trinidad and Tobago Red Force stormed to their first domestic 50-over title in five years, by crushing Guyana Jaguars by 152 runs in a lopsided final of the Regional Super50 Cup on Saturday.
Behind Simmons’ pulsating career-best 146 off 145 balls, Red Force piled up a massive 362 for five off their 50 overs – the fifth-highest total in Super50 history – after being asked to bat first for the first time in the tournament at Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Veteran fast bowler Ravi Rampaul (4-52) and his teenage counterpart, Jayden Seales (3-40), then dismantled the Jaguars’ top order to send the innings crashing to 55 for six at the end of the 10th over.
With defeat all but certain, all-rounder Raymon Reifer top-scored with an unbeaten 97 off 112 deliveries, inspiring defiant lower-order resistance before he was left stranded short of a well-deserved hundred, as Jaguars collapsed to 210 all out in the 44th over.
The result gave Red Force the distinction of playing unbeaten in the tournament, while for Jaguars, the defeat saw them extend their 16-year drought without a domestic 50-over title.
“Winning is the only thing,” an emphatic Red Force skipper Kieron Pollard said afterwards.
“No matter what, every time I get the opportunity to step on the cricket field, you want to do well as an individual and a team and you want to win. I thank God for giving us the opportunity to come out here and actually prove that we are the best team in the Caribbean this year,” Pollard added.
Jaguars captain Leon Johnson, meanwhile, lamented his side’s efforts.
“We weren’t on our A game today,” Johnson said. “I thought Red Force were better than us. I think the execution of our shots in the power-play really cost us.”
Jaguars had earlier found themselves completely deflated after the 36-year-old Simmons took centre stage with his second hundred of the campaign and the highest score in a Super50 final.
He smashed 15 fours and seven sixes, inspiring several partnerships, as Red Force took advantage of wayward Jaguars bowling.
His opening partner, Evin Lewis, stroked 57 off 53 deliveries, while left-hander Darren Bravo hit 47 off 52 balls, and Nicholas Pooran, another left-hander, a 15-ball 39.
Fast bowler Romario Shepherd finished with two for 105 but lacked discipline, and leaked runs throughout his 10-over spell.
Facing a steep required run rate of 7.26, Jaguars quickly crumbled under the scoreboard pressure.
Tevin Imlach played around a full-length delivery from fast bowler Anderson Phillip (2-40) and was lbw for five in the third over, with the score on 17.
Left-hander Hetmyer, fresh off a hundred in last Thursday’s semi-final, arrived at the crease with the weight of the run chase on his shoulders and briefly raised hopes of another special innings.
In the next over from Phillip, the fifth of the innings, Hetmyer punished the 24-year-old, belting three fours and an upper cut for six, to race to 20 off 12 balls.
But three balls later in the next over from Rampaul, Hetmyer slashed impulsively at a wide delivery and edged a straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Ramdin at 40 for two.
His dismissal triggered a slide that saw five wickets tumble for 15 runs in the space of 28 balls, and erase any chance Jaguars had of victory.
Reifer, who counted seven fours and three sixes, put on 39 for the seventh wicket with Kevin Sinclair (19), 38 for the eighth wicket with Veerasammy Permaul (13), and 71 with Motie (28) for the ninth; but those partnerships only delayed the inevitable.