Pooran, Bravo master class lead Red Force to Super50 semis

File photo: TT Red Force skipper Nicholas Pooran made an unbeaten 99 runs against the Windward Islands Volcanoes during the CG United Super 50 Cup match at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba.
File photo: TT Red Force skipper Nicholas Pooran made an unbeaten 99 runs against the Windward Islands Volcanoes during the CG United Super 50 Cup match at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba.

A master class 165-run stance from Red Force skipper Nicholas Pooran (99 not out) and Darren Bravo (67 not out) launched Trinidad and Tobago into the CG Insurance Super50 Cup semi-final after an emphatic seven-wicket win over Windward Islands Volcanoes at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, on Saturday night.

Pooran and Bravo, partnered with a fine knock of 43 from opener Kjorn Ottley, led the hosts to a breath-taking 249/3 after 39 overs in a rain-affected match, which saw the Red Force chase a revised target of 248.

This came as a result of an over two-hour rain delay at the south venue, in the middle of a brave fightback from the Windward Islands, led by Sunil Ambris (90 not out) and captain Andre Fletcher (68 not out), who carried them to 201/4 after 40 overs before the heavens opened.

When play resumed at 7.45pm, Red Force were tasked with a challenging new target of 249 for victory following the application of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Despite losing fellow opener Amir Jangoo (two) with 32 runs on the board, Ottley and Jason Mohammed teamed up to form a good 49-run partnership.

Ottley hit Volcanoes pacer Preston McSween for consecutive fours down the ground and also targeted spinner Kavem Hodge while Mohammed chipped on to 25 from 43 balls before he was caught behind by Johnson Charles off Justin Greaves.

At 71/2 after 16.1 overs, Bravo entered. Ottley, however, fell 13 runs later, bowled by Greaves. His exit made way for new batsman Pooran to join Bravo in the middle.

Needing a hefty 165 runs from 131 balls, the TT pair then took turns dousing the Volcanoes’ attack. Pooran and Bravo were clinical and stroked the ball around the stadium with clear intent.

They smartly rotated the strike and eased the pressure on each other by disposing of the bad balls and taking quick singles.

With ten overs to go, the duo smashed a quick-fire 39 runs in three overs which brought them to 198/4, and needing 51 runs from 42 balls for victory.

Scenting his century, Pooran sliced Graves for four then scored 12, inclusive of two consecutive boundaries, off Shadrack Descarte, to spearhead the chase.

With Pooran on strike, on 96, and just seven runs needed from 12 balls, the skipper played a single to let Bravo face Descarte.

Bravo, however, hit a four, and although it significantly aided their chase, he apologised to Pooran for taking so many runs off the board knowing full well his captain’s urgency for a domestic century.

Bravo then struck a single off Descarte’s penultimate delivery to bring the scores level.

With Pooran needing one run for victory and two for an anticipated century, he settled for the former this time around, falling agonisingly short with his match-winning, unbeaten, captain’s knock of 99, but also securing a spot in the Super50 Cup semi-final.

The win for TT affirmed the top spot with 18 points after six preliminary round Zone A matches. Also moving on to the knockout stage from this group was Guyana Harpy Eagles, who beat Combined Campuses and Colleges by 129 runs earlier in the day.

Earlier on, the Red Force had the Volcanoes in a spot of bother on 37/4 after seven overs.

Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein was a bit expensive, conceding ten runs in the opening over but Shannon Gabriel was successful in the second over, shattering Johann Jeremiah’s (five) stumps off his second delivery.

Hosein returned to the attack and the visitors lost their second wicket as Yannic Cariah had Charles run out for eight.

Volcanoes’ danger-man Alick Athanaze strutted out but Hosein seemed to make amends for his early slip-up as he had him caught brilliantly by a diving Pooran at second slip.

Two balls later, Hosein struck again in a similar fashion, as new batsman Kavem Hodge edged a bouncing delivery into the hands of Sunil Narine at first slip, as they slipped to 36/4.

But the duo of Ambris and Fletcher buckled down, rescued the innings and gave them a fighting chance until the lengthy downpour.

Pooran rotated his bowlers with Cariah, Narine, Jason Mohammed, Jyd Goolie and Terrance Hinds all trying to break the partnership. But the Volcanoes pair played patiently and gained confidence as the evening progressed.

The duo rallied on with Fletcher driving Cariah and Hinds down the ground for well-executed boundaries. Despite the Volcanoes showing good resistance, the Red Force’s spin options continued to threaten.

At 33 overs gone, a short drinks break was taken and the pair returned with intent. Ambris smashed Narine for two fours in the very next over, which eventually totalled 12 runs.

Both batsmen took turns hitting big shots as each of them plastered Cariah for a six each in the same over (36th).

Eight runs came from Hinds in the 39th over and four from the 40th, to carry them to 201/4, just before the covers came on.

Additionally, Zone B’s semi-finalists will be decided on Sunday as Barbados Royals face the Leeward Islands and Jamaica go up against West Indies Academy, both from 2pm. Barbados, Leewards and Jamaica, once victorious, will seal semi-final qualification.

The first semi bowls off at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Wednesday, the second on Thursday and the title match, at the same venue, on Saturday.


VOLCANOES 201 for four off 40 overs (Sunil Ambris 90 not out, Andre Fletcher 68 not out; Akeal Hosein 2-37)

RED FORCE 249 for three off 39 overs (Nicholas Pooran 99 not out, Darren Bravo 67 not out, Kjorn Ottley 43; Justin Greaves 2-55)


"Pooran, Bravo master class lead Red Force to Super50 semis"

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