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Hosts poll-axed

Haydn Gill

Hosts poll-axed

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BARBADOS’ cricketers saved their deposits, but badly lost the election to Trinidad and Tobago – again.
For the umpteenth time over the past decade in contests between the two teams, red prevailed over blue.
More than 8 500 “voters” went to the “polls” at Kensington Oval on Friday night in anticipation of a landslide victory for the hosts that would have landed them a seat in yesterday’s semi-finals of the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament.
But on the day that Barbados remembered its first Prime Minister, the fans would quickly want to forget the performance of their cricketers.
The final margin of defeat was by 51 runs, which in the shortened form of the game is as massive as they come.
A comparable margin in political terms would be about 2 000 votes.
Yet, there were periods when Barbados dominated that raised hopes of a rare victory over Trinidad and Tobago in recent years.
The win carried the victors to the top of Group B and earned them a semi-final date with Jamaica last night.
The defeat, Barbados’ second, left the hosts in third place, with second-placed Hampshire gaining the other semi-final berth.
For the record, Trinidad and Tobago posted 166 for seven after winning the toss and then restricted Barbados to 115 for nine, but scores alone don’t paint the picture of embarrassment.
Barbados enjoyed two good periods, one coming at the end of Trinidad and Tobago’s innings when they grabbed four wickets in the last over from off-spinner Ashley Nurse to cap off three relatively tight overs in which they restricted the rampaging opponents to 21.
The other impressive period followed immediately at the start of Barbados’ response when in-form Dwayne Smith and assured debutant Rashidi Boucher combined to rapidly post 50 from the first five overs.
The play before and after those two periods of dominance by Barbados, however, left those in the stands in disbelief.
A plethora of sixes between the promising Darren Bravo and opener Lendl Simmons dramatically altered proceedings at a time when Barbados would have been content in limiting Trinidad and Tobago to 65 for one after the first ten overs due to another fine opening spell by Javon Searles.
Suddenly, the ball started heading into the stands at almost every turn against the likes of Kemar Roach, Tino Best and Ryan Hinds.
Bravo and Simmons combined to lash nine sixes between them, leaving skipper Hinds bewildered in the face of an onslaught that yielded 82 runs during a seven-over period.
The delightful Bravo cracked 70 off 35 balls at a strike-rate of 200 in an innings in which he belted five sixes and four fours, while Simmons spectacularly emerged from a sound start to hit 53 off 45 balls with four sixes and three fours.
When Simmons fell to the first ball of the 16th over at 120 for two, Trinidad and Tobago would have been targeting more than 180. But Nurse, who amazingly featured in every dismissal, helped stop the run-feast by claiming five for 26, his second five-wicket haul in the short history of the tournament.
Smith once again batted with plenty of common sense by cutting out his cross-batted strokes.
He raced to 27 off 14 balls but the entertainment was all too brief before he was deceived by a flipper from leg-spinner Samuel Badree and was bowled.
Barbados scored at ten runs an over for the first five overs, but the rate was reduced to half of that during the next five overs in which captain Ryan Hinds and Alcindo Holder were unable to get after the spin of Badree and Sunil Narine, along with the fast-medium stuff of Kevon Cooper.
As the required run-rate climbed, Barbados’ chances sunk with a double-strike by Cooper in successive balls in the 11th over in which he yorked Hinds and Jonathan Carter.
From 74 for two after ten overs, Barbados slipped to 89 for six in the 14th over and for the remainder of the match there were times when some fans were laughing at what was unfolding before them.
Barbados went more than seven overs without hitting a boundary. When one finally came, it was courtesy of an edge by Sulieman Benn, who proceeded to miss more balls that he hit.
That typified Barbados’misery on the night.