Friday 25th July 2014 – Port of Spain, Trinidad: For the second time in this year’s Limacol Caribbean Premier League, the Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel and the Guyana Amazon Warriors gave us a remarkable game of Twenty20 cricket on Thursday night. A party atmosphere crowd was treated to a match that ebbed and flowed throughout. This time it was the Red Steel that were the victors thanks to a brilliant partnership between Dwayne and Darren Bravo, the younger brother hitting the last ball for six to win the game. The visitors made the decision to leave out Sunil Narine who had a slight side strain, and it may well have been the deciding factor in this match as the Guyana side struggled for control at the death.
From his very first over, the Red Steel’s Samuel Badree was on target, picking up the wicket of New Zealander Martin Guptil, who was back to his more familiar spot of opener for this game. It was the first of three wickets that Badree collected inside the power play as the Amazon Warriors stuttered to 27 for three off the first six overs. One of those victims was Guyana’s leading run scorer in this tournament, Lendl Simmons. He was well stumped by teenage wicket keeper Nicolas Pooran for 24, just as he was starting to accelerate.
Denesh Ramdin took over from there as he put together an excellent partnership of 122 with Jimmy Neesham that at first rebuilt the Amazon Warriors innings, and then took them to a competitive total. Ramdin was very much the aggressor as he finished on 84 off 45 balls, his highest T20 score. He could well have been out LBW to Sulieman Benn for 12 when there did not seem to be a good reason to turn down the appeal. From that point onwards, the Guyana captain did not look back, hitting six sixes along the way. Anything wide was carved into the off side, anything short was pulled onto the leg.
When he came back to complete his spell, Badree was close to collecting his fourth wicket with Neesham agonisingly close to becoming the second man out stumped, outfoxed by a googly. The TV umpire decided to give the benefit of any doubt to the batsman, but it was tight. Badree finished with outstanding figures of 3 for 13, the pick of the Red Steel bowlers yet again.
When Ramdin fell there was a danger of Amazon Warriors failing to capitalise on the platform he had given them. While Neesham struggled to kick on from the supporting role he had played throughout the innings, Christopher Barnwell had no such problems in getting going. He hit 22 runs off just eight balls to push his team up to 179. It should have been a few less, but Kevon Cooper dropped two catches off the last two balls.
The Red Steel chase could not have got off to a worse start as Kevin O’Brien and Ross Taylor both fell cheaply. Having starred in a brilliant partnership in their team’s last match, the hopes of getting close to this target were greatly reduced with their wickets. When Kennar Lewis departed inside the Power play, the chances of victory decreased further.
Then something remarkable happened. Everything rested on the Bravo brothers as they put together one of the great T20 partnerships. When they began the Red Steel were 13-3 and they seemed to have no chance. By the time 15 overs had gone, they were favourites. As ever, Darren Bravo looked amazing as he drove the ball through the covers. Dwayne was not quite as elegant, but he was just as effective. Their partnership of 131 was breathtaking as the siblings seemed to want to outdo each other’s shot making.
The lively and passionate home supporters were given plenty to cheer, especially as the brothers tore into Jimmy Neesham and Ronsford Beaton in consecutive overs. The Amazon Warriors had chances to bring the stand to an earlier end with Dwayne Bravo dropped on 19 and again on 50. As it was, the older brother made 67 before he was well caught in the deep by Christopher Barnwell.
There was still work to do when Pooran arrived at the crease, but, despite his tender years he did not seem overawed by the task as he got off the mark with a six. As the match appeared to heading toward a Red Steel win, the Amazon Warriors will have been looking around for the rested Narine to bring them back into it. There was still one more twist before the end as Pooran departed to a brilliant diving catch by Simmons and Cooper also went to a reckless shot off the last ball of the penultimate over.
With nine runs needed off the last over, thoughts turned to a second tie between these teams, but it was not to be. Beaton was bowling brilliantly, conceding just three runs off the first five balls. That left Darren Bravo on strike with six needed to win from the last ball. Beaton bowled length, which Bravo smashed to over mid wicket to win a phenomenal game for his team.