Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel will face defending champions Barbados Tridents in the Hero Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 final today after defeating two-time finalists Guyana Amazon Warriors by six wickets in the second semifinal at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, last night.
It is the first time the Dwayne Bravo-led side will contest the final and they will have the momentum heading into that match.
But the Red Steel have had mixed results against the defending champs, losing to them earlier this season before whipping the Kieron Pollard-led side at the Oval the second time around.
Pollard’s team booked an automatic place in the final for the second straight year after topping the standings while the Red Steel came from the last place to earn a spot in the final four and now have a chance to clinch the trophy and the US$400,000 winner-take-all jackpot.
Last night, the home fans had a lot to cheer about after the Amazon Warriors opted to bat first and were restricted to 109 for nine off their 20 overs with only Lendl Simmons standing up to the Red Steel bowling attack.
Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal then came to the party for the Red Steel, smashing 49 off 41 balls to set up the win as the home side replied with 109 for four off 18.2 overs.
When the visitors batted, Simmons smashed 64 off 51 balls with eight fours. He gave the Amazon Warriors a good start, putting on 19 in the first three overs before Kevon Cooper pulled the game back for the Red Steel.
Cooper got Trevon Griffith with his third ball of the game before the Red Steel spinners really tightened the screws.
Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn removed the Amazon Warriors captain Denesh Ramdin with the score on 50 in the eighth over before leg-spinner Samuel Badree sent back Brad Hodge and the promoted Sunil Narine in the next over to put the hosts in control.
Only Simmons troubled the Red Steel bowlers, reaching his half-century with a four off Benn. Christopher Barnwell was the only other batsman to reach double figures. He hit 12 off 17 balls before he was run out in the 15th over with the score progressing to 77 for six.
The Red Steel suffered a few scares in their reply when they lost Cameron Delport and Jacques Kallis early but the hosts were never in any real danger.
Kamran Akmal dispelled any fears as he took the attack to Veerasammy Permaul in the fifth over, smashing a four and a six to deep midwicket as the hosts progressed from 14 for one after four overs to 27 for one after five.
Akmal went after David Wiese in the next over hitting five fours to get the home crowd fired up.
Even after Kallis departed the Oval crowd was still on its feet as Darren Bravo walked to the middle.
The left-hander smacked Narine for two fours to announce his arrival before pulling Devendra Bishoo for six over the Trini Posse Stand.
But he departed shortly after for 22 off 17 while Akmal was bowled by Narine with the score on 85 for five to slow the chase but there were no more scares for the Red Steel as skipper Dwayne Bravo and Jason Mohammed guided their team safely across the finish line.
The final bowls off today at 4:30 p.m.