Lendl Simmons was not needed for the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force to finish unbeaten in the preliminary round of the CG Insurance Super50 Cup.
But with the tournament now at the semi-final stage, the experienced opener is expected to come back to add even more power to an already firing side.
“He will come in for semis,” coach David Furlonge said of Simmons yesterday. “If we wanted to have pushed it we could have played him yesterday (Saturday).
The experienced opener has not played since tweaking a hamstring in scoring 102 against the Windward Islands Volcanoes in the Red Force’s second match.
Despite his absence, Kieron Pollard’s side successfully chased down totals against the Barbados Pride, Leeward Islands Hurricanes and the previously unbeaten Jaguars on Saturday.
In that match, Pollard, Sunil Narine, and Ravi Rampaul were also rested and still the Red Force were able to limit the Jaguars to 187 in 41.5 overs and go on to win by six wickets. This was despite the Jaguars racing to 106 without loss in the 21st over.
The match changed once stand-in skipper Darren Bravo introduced leg-spinner Imran Khan as his sixth bowling option. In his first over, he had top-scorer Chandrapaul Hemraj (87) caught at the wicket by keeper Denesh Ramdin. Khan, who only entered the tournament in the third match against the Pride, went on to get career-best One-Day figures of five for 32 as the Jaguars completely lost their way.
“Guyana got off to a pretty good start... The conversation with our senior guys, we decided that we needed to build pressure, we definitely needed to bowl some tight overs,” Bravo noted after the match. “I thought Khary Pierre did a fantastic job; he did that really well. And we knew if we kept things tight, Imran with his variations... with his experience he would come in and make the difference for us.”
Khan added: “Once you get the opportunity you have to grab it with both hands. I’ve been doing that and I’m just trying to get stronger each game.”
Having ensured a modest victory target, the Red Force batsmen did not lose the plot like their Jaguars counterparts, Bravo getting 58 and Jason Mohammed 82 not out in posting 112 for the third wicket.
Mohammed is currently the tournament’s leading scorer with 285 runs. And Bravo noted: “Before the tournament started, Kieron Pollard decided we should give Jason that responsibility... He has been playing fantastic. He’s the glue for us at this point in time.”
However, Nicholas Pooran recorded another failure, making 18. Pollard is also yet to get a score of note in the tournament. But neither Bravo nor Furlonge are worried going into the semis.
“He is still very confident. I’m confident,” the coach said of Pooran, with Bravo adding, “Those guys are world class, they are very experienced, they understand their roles and responsibilities within the set-up and they are definitely going to take that responsibility going forward.”
And Furlonge added in ending: “The players are 100 per cent focused. We came here for one purpose, that is to win the tournament, so we have to be focused on that.”
JAGUARS 187 off 41.5 overs (Chandrapaul Hemraj 87, Tevin Imlach 38; Imran Khan 5-32, Akeal Hosein 2-25) vs RED FORCE 189-4 off 40.2 overs (Jason Mohammed 82 not out, Darren Bravo 58; Gudakesh Motie 2-36) --Result: Red Force won by 6 wickets