Simmons’ hundred propels Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to Super 50 title


Lendl Simmons

ST JOHN’S, Antigua  – Ace opener Lendl Simmons blazed an imperious hundred as a dominant Trinidad and Tobago Red Force stormed to their first domestic 50-overs title in five years by crushing Guyana Jaguars by 152 runs in a lopsided final of the Regional Super50 Cup here  on Saturday night.

Behind Simmons’ pulsating career-best 146 off 145 balls, Red Force piled up a massive 362 for five off their 50 overs – the fifth highest total in Super50 history – after being asked to bat first for the first time in the tournament at Coolidge Cricket Ground.

Veteran fast bowler Ravi Rampaul (4-52) and his teenaged counterpart, Jayden Seales (3-40), then dismantled the Jaguars top order to send the innings crashing to 55 for six at the end of the 10th over.

With defeat all but certain, all-rounder Raymon Reifer top-scored with an unbeaten 97 off 112 deliveries, inspiring defiant lower order resistance before he was left stranded short of a well-deserved hundred, as Jaguars collapsed to 210 all out in the 44th over. The result gave Red Force the distinction of playing unbeaten in the tournament while for Jaguars, the defeat saw them extend their 16-year drought without a domestic 50-overs title.

“Winning is the only thing,” an emphatic Red Force skipper Kieron Pollard said afterwards.

“No matter what, every time I get the opportunity to step on the cricket field, you want to do well as an individual and a team and you want to win.

“I thank God for giving us the opportunity to come out here and actually prove that we are the best team in the Caribbean this year.”

Jaguars captain Leon Johnson, meanwhile, lamented his side’s efforts.

“We weren’t on our A game today,” he said. “I thought Red Force were better than us. I think the execution of our shots in the power-play really cost us.”

Jaguars had earlier found themselves completely deflated after the 36-year-old Simmons took centre stage with his second hundred of the campaign and the highest score in a Super50 final.

He smashed 15 fours and seven sixes, inspiring several partnerships as Red Force took advantage of wayward Jaguars bowling.

His opening partner Evin Lewis stroked 57 off 53 deliveries while left-hander Darren Bravo hit 47 off 52 balls and Nicholas Pooran, another left-hander, a 15-ball 39.

Fast bowler Romario Shepherd finished with two for 105 but lacked discipline, and leaked runs throughout his 10-over spell.

Red Force’s start was typically flamboyant as Simmons and Lewis put on 121 for the first wicket in quick time, to deny Jaguars any early success.

Left-hander Lewis, who struck three fours and four sixes, was the first to fall when he holed out to long off off left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie in the 20th over but Bravo joined Simmons to add a further 100 for the second wicket.

Bravo hit three fours and two sixes and appeared set for his half-century when he slashed a wide ball from left-arm seamer Reifer for Shepherd to take a diving catch at short third man in the 39th over.

By then, Red Force were in full control at 221 for two and a string of solid partnerships then propelled them past the 300-run mark.

Simmons, who reached three figures in the 37th over to register his seventh List A hundred, posted 67 with Pooran for the third wicket and a further 21 for the fourth with captain Kieron Pollard (23), before eventually perishing in the 45th over, lifting Shepherd to Shimron Hetmyer running back at mid off.

Pollard and Denesh Ramdin, with an 18-ball unbeaten 27, then added 48 for the fifth wicket to further punish Jaguars.

Facing a steep required run rate of 7.26, Jaguars quickly crumbled under the scoreboard pressure.

Tevin Imlach played around a full length delivery from fast bowler Anderson Phillip (2-40) and was lbw for five in the third over with the score on 17.

Left-hander Hetmyer, fresh off a hundred in last Thursday’s semi-final, arrived at the crease with the weight of the run chase on his shoulders and briefly raised hopes of another special innings.

In the next over from Phillip, the fifth of the innings, Hetmyer punished the 24-year-old, belting three fours and an upper cut for six, to race to 20 off 12 balls.

But three balls later in the next over from Rampaul, Hetmyer slashed impulsively at a wide delivery and edged a straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Ramdin at 40 for two.

His dismissal triggered a slide that saw five wickets tumble for 15 runs in the space of 28 balls, and erase any chance Jaguars had of victory.

Chandrapaul Hemraj pulled the first ball of the next over from Seales and was caught by Phillip on the ropes at deep backward square for 14 and seven balls later Johnson steered Rampaul to Phillip at gully to perish without scoring.

Chris Barnwell was caught at deep mid-wicket by Mohammed for five, top-edging a pull at Seales in the ninth before Shepherd (4) missed a forward defensive prod and had his off-stump pegged back by Rampaul at the end of the 10th over.

Reifer, who counted seven fours and three sixes, then put on 39 for the seventh wicket with Kevin Sinclair (19), 38 for the eighth wicket with Veerasammy Permaul (13) and 71 with Motie (28) for the ninth but those partnerships only delayed the inevitable.