A full-strength, star-studded Trinidad and Tobago Red Force squad will take the field in the Cricket West Indies Super50 Cup next month in Antigua as the franchise looks to clinch their first piece of silverware since winning back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.
West Indies white-ball skipper Kieron Pollard will lead the T&T contingent, which includes a wealth of experience, both with the bat and the ball as well as a number of power-hitting options.
There were no major surprises in the line-up except maybe for all-rounder Tion Webster, who was one of the more consistent run-scorers in the Red Force trial matches.
Making the cut for the Red Force were 36-year-old veteran fast-bowler Ravi Rampaul along with Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Jason Mohammed and Nicholas Pooran. Bravo, who captained the Red Force four-day squad last year, will serve as Pollard’s vice captain for the Super50.
Chairman of selectors Rajendra Mangalie describes the team as a very experienced one and he believes that experience will be enough to end T&T’s title drought in regional competition which dates back to 2016.
They were knocked out at the semi-final stage in the previous two editions of the competition (2018 & ‘19) and Mangalie is of the belief that with the all the senior players making themselves available, they can go all the way this time around.
“It is a very experienced team led by the West Indies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard. There are also plenty West Indies players in the team, mixed in with some younger players, so it is definitely a very strong team,” Mangalie told the Express yesterday.
“This is an important tournament for T&T cricket. We have not won any regional tournament since 2016 and coming out of 2020 and having all the senior players in the team with some young exciting talent as well, I think it will be a very fruitful tournament for us,” he added.
Asked about the omission of all-rounder Tion Webster, who was one of the more consistent players during the trial matches, Mangalie said there was limited space on the team. “It is a tough team to break into with all these experience players available,” the chairman of selectors stated.
Pollard’s experience came to the fore yesterday as he lead by example, hitting 113 to guide his team to a three-wicket victory over a Yannic Cariah XI in a Red Force practice match at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.
Chasing 275 to win, Pollard put on a show, slamming 12 sixes and four fours in a 65-ball knock that put his team on the brink of victory. But he was out caught by Mark Deyal off Cariah leaving Khary Pierre (29 not out) and Bryan Charles (16 not out) as they reached 277 for seven off 43.5 overs.
Earlier, Isaiah Rajah struck an unbeaten 110 (138 balls, five fours and four sixes) while Tion Webster hit 81 not out (70 balls, with six fours and four sixes) as Cariah’s team posted 274 for one off their 50 overs. Jeremy Solozano also scored a half-century for Cariah’s team, hitting 55 off 94 balls at the top of the innings.
The Super50 Cup is scheduled to take place in Antigua and Barbuda from February 7-27. Mohammed, Kjorn Ottley and Akeal Hosein are all expected to return from the West Indies tour of Bangladesh in time to link up with the Red Force in Antigua before the team’s first game.
Yesterday’s Summarised Scores:
Cariah XI 274-1 (50 overs) (Isaiah Rajah 110 n.o., Tion Webster 81 n.o., Jeremy Solozano 55) vs Pollard Xi 277-7 (43.5 overs) (Kieron Pollard 113, Evin Lewis 45, Denesh Ramdin 44, Khary Pierre 29 n.o.; Mark Deyal 3/43, Yannic Cariah 2/24, Terrance Hinds 2/39)--Pollard XI won by 3 wickets
Red Force Squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Jason Mohammed, Darren Bravo (vice-captain), Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Imran Khan, Akeal Hosein, Ravi Rampaul, Jayden Seales, Kjorn Ottley, Anderson Phillip, Khary Pierre. David Furlonge (Coach), Sebastian Edwards (Manager), Lyndon Knights (Physiotherapist), Clinton Jeremiah (Trainer), Kelly Sankar (Masseur).