Barbados swept aside the Leeward Islands last night with much more fury than the rain that swept across Port of Spain earlier in the day.
After the elements abated to allow a delayed start to their first match of the Caribbean Twenty20, Barbados blew away their opponents by nine wickets in a match that was hardly a contest at the Queen’s Park Oval.
In a game reduced to 18 overs, the Leewards, surprisingly batting first after winning the toss, lost a wicket from a first ball by Tino Best and struggled to 87 in 17.3 overs.
Barbados made light work of the target, racing home in just 8.2 overs after a belligerent display from debutant Justin Brathwaite paved the way for the emphatic win.
The left-handed Brathwaite, on his debut appearance for Barbados, smashed 42 off 16 balls, belting four sixes and three hours that left Leewards shell-shocked.
Brathwaite, who was not included in Barbados’ original training squad, wasted no time in opening up his muscular shoulders and bludgeoned 22 runs in the second over from fast bowler Kelbert Walters.
The onslaught started with two fours down the ground and continued with a six overhead and another that was pulled over square-leg.
Captain Dwayne Smith, by no means overshadowed, also got into the act in the next over with a couple of sixes on the way to his unbeaten 32 off 20 balls.
By the time Brathwaite gave a catch to mid on to end a highly entertaining innings, Barbados were 65 for one in just 4.3 overs.
It was the perfect start to the tournament for Barbados who meet Jamaica today at 4 p.m.
“I can’t thank young Justin enough. It was a brilliant innings from him. It was a good start,” Smith said.
“The guys put in a very good performance in the field and with the ball. We can’t do it without them.”
The modest target for Barbados was set up by Best’s career-best haul of four for 26 and the support he got in the middle of the innings through the tight bowling from Smith and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.
Best claimed the important wicket of West Indies opener Kieran Powell with the first ball of the match that was hooked down the throat of fine leg.
When he came back for a second spell, he dislodged another international player, Devon Thomas, and grabbed a further two wickets in his final over.
A combination of genuine pace and slower balls did the trick for Best against batsmen who never came to terms with Barbados’ attack.
“Everybody knows that I can bowl 90 miles per hour. It’s no big thing but when you want to get big contracts in whatever league, you’ve got to come with variations,” Best said.
Leewards were reduced to 18 for three in the sixth over and the embarrassment could have been worse had it not been for Chesney Hughes’ 34 off 23 balls that included two sixes in left-arm spinner Ryan Hinds’ only over.
Smith, who replaced Best as the first change in the attack, conceded just four runs from 2.3 overs, while Benn was mean in his four overs that cost nine and included two wickets.
Among them was Hughes, the English county professional who looked dangerous before he was bowled by a ball of full length.
Combined Campuses and Colleges were scheduled to meet Guyana in the nightcap game. (HG)