A near sold-out crowd at the Queen’s Park Oval was treated to a thrilling match on Saturday with the Red Force falling to a Caribbean Select XI by 11 runs in a gung-ho chase of 218 for victory in the Hurricane Relief T20. With all the proceeds going to help Dominica, Barbuda and St Martin who were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last month, fans flocked to the Oval with tickets priced at $100 to help our Caribbean neighbours. An added bonus was the assembly of a full strength Red Force T20 team for the first time in five years with the likes of Sunil Narine (2/23), Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne and Darren Bravo all donning the red, white and black together.
But the Caribbean XI, batting first, spoiled the party for the hosts with an unexpected explosion in the second half of their innings. The Red Force and their captain Kieron Pollard thought they had the match under control with the visitors 74 for three after 10 overs. But Brandon King (62 off 26 balls) and Rovman Powell (56 off 28 balls) had other ideas, taking 143 off the last 10 overs in an aerial assault that stunned the Oval into silence and lifted them to a stunning 217 for eight in their 20 overs.
King, who was named Man-of-the-Match, showed little respect for Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Imran Khan, hitting them each for a six in his blistering knock before he finally perished caught at long-on trying to hit Khan for three straight sixes. His dismissal did not stem the flow of runs with Powell upping the ante to take 23 off Pollard’s second over then feasting on medium pacer Rayad Emrit with three sixes in four balls to race to his 50 which came off 25 balls. When he was out, Ashley Nurse (26 not out from 12 balls) took the Caribbean XI well past the 200 mark.
But the Red Force came out blazing in their chase and made 218 initially look like child’s play. Opener Lendl Simmons (49 off 25 balls) laid the platform with a blistering cameo before Darren Bravo (58 off 29) looked to take the game away with a pyrotechnic display that had sixes raining and Oval spectators ducking for cover. The left-hander struck three fours and six sixes but – like Simmons – was caught looking to hit one six to many. The chase stuttered badly upon Bravo’s dismissal with wickets falling continuously and the run rate beginning to climb. Not even Kevon ‘Super’ Cooper who struck a six and a four in the 18th over could get it done as the Red Force lost their last six wickets for 48 runs to be bowled out for 206 in 19.5 overs.
Speaking after the match, Colin Murray, a member of the Local Organising Committee, said he is optimistic they will meet their goal of raising $1 million to helps the islands.
“I hope so. The turnout has been phenomenal, everybody played a super part in this event. If we don’t make a million (dollars) we would have given it our all. We got the support of almost the (entire) corporate Trinidad, we got the players on board, the media involved and I’m very happy. The crowd exceeded our expectations and I’m hopeful we meet our target,” he said.
Murray said he expects donations to still come in before the week concludes.
“Don’t forget we still have collections coming in and the account is still open at First Citizens. I know a lot of people say they’ve gone away for the long weekend and by next week they want to put something so we are hoping to have some kind of (final) figures by the end of the week.”
Murray noted that organisers are contemplating making the charity match an annual event given the widely held scientific belief that climate change is real and hurricane seasons such as this year will become the norm.
“We discussed it but that’s about all that we did. It’s a good idea that maybe we can put some funds into an account and God forbid any disaster happens, we can assist,” he said.