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Red Force demolish Leewards to stay alive

By STEPHON NICHOLAS Thursday, February 6 2014

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THE CRICKET starved Tobago public got just what they wanted yesterday as a Red Force team, hungry for points, demolished the lowly Leeward Islands by five wickets to get back in the reckoning for a coveted place in the 2014 Nagico Super50 semi-finals.

Close to 1500 spectators crammed into the scenic Shaw Park facility for a taste of regional cricket, returning to Tobago for the first time since 2006. The fans were treated to a dominating display by the home team who picked up a bonus point as well to move to second in the table with an all important group decider against table toppers Combined Campuses and Colleges to come on Sunday at the Queen’s Park Oval.

After a dismal bowling performance in their opening match against Barbados on Sunday, the TT bowlers were at their best with their backs against the wall, routing their rivals for 140 in 43.2 overs.

Rampaul, who conceded 65 runs in nine overs for just one wicket against the Bajans, grabbed four wickets for 20 runs while sharing the spotlight with off-spinner and Man-of-the-Match Sunil Narine who was his wily, miserly self with returns of four for 17.

Narine, who was in South Africa playing in the RAM SLAM T20 Tournament while TT were getting beaten on Sunday, needed no time to acclimatise against the clueless Leewards batsmen.

Rampaul, bowling the new ball with captain Dwayne Bravo, made an instant impact, reducing the Leewards to 30 for two with the scalps of Kieran Powell (8) and Montcin Hodge (15) in quick succession.

Pacer Rayad Emrit induced a false shot from former captain Sylvester Joseph who popped a catch to Lendl Simmons at short cover. Meanwhile, Narine, who announced his return with a maiden over, trapped Mali Richards (10) lbw in the 18th over to leave the Leewards in tatters at 46 for four. But Devon Thomas and Jahmar Hamilton staged a mini recovery that threatened to getaway. Thomas struck some lusty blows off “leggie” Imran Khan and Yannick Ottley but perished when looking in control, punching Ottley to Simmons at cover to be dismissed for a well played 42 from 52 balls.

Narine and Rampaul, returning to clean up the innings, fulfilled their skipper’s wishes, as the last six wickets fell for 27 runs.

The TT off-spinner proved too wily for Rahkeem Cornwall, trapped lbw, while new batsman Justin Athanaze was clueless against a flighted one from Narine which he nicked to slip first ball. Rampaul, smelling blood, accounted for tailenders Gavin Tonge (4) and Anthony Martin (0) while Narine ended Hamilton’s stay for 39 by trapping him in front.

TT, in their reply, were rocked twice by the pace of Gavin Tonge who removed the out-of-form Adrian Barath (0) in the first over and then got rid of Evin Lewis (11) to make it 25 for two. Simmons (25) and Darren Bravo played some classy shots before both perished to spinner Justin Athanaze that left the hosts in a spot of bother at 74 for four. But the skipper Dwayne snatched back the momentum with a brilliant knock of 42 from 37 balls which featured four fours and three glorious sixes.

The allrounder stated his intention with an imperious flick for six to get off the mark and displayed an array of strokes with wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin that brought TT on the brink of victory. He became Tonge’s third victim, caught behind playing a forcing shot through the off-side but Ramdin (22 not out) and Yannick Ottley (5 not out) took TT home in 27.1 overs to clinch the bonus point.

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