ST JOHN’S – Imran Khan’s career-best five-wicket haul, coupled with half-centuries from Jason Mohammed and Darren Bravo, ensured favourites T&T Red Force finished their preliminary round campaign unbeaten with a polished six-wicket victory over Guyana Jaguars.
With Jaguars cruising on 106 without loss behind Chandrapaul Hemraj’s attacking 87, Khan scythed through the top and middle order with a spell of five for 32, as the last nine wickets tumbled spectacularly for 81 runs to leave the innings in ruins at 187 all out in the 42nd over.
In reply, Mohammed punched an unbeaten 82 off 114 deliveries while Bravo struck 58 from 77 balls as Red Force strolled to their fifth straight win of the Regional Super50 Cup in Antigua on Saturday.
Bravo, who led Red Force in the absence of regular captain Kieron Pollard, praised Mohammed’s enterprise which has seen him notch a half-century and a hundred in two of his last three innings.
“Before the tournament started, Kieron Pollard decided to give Jason that level of responsibility,” Bravo explained.
“He’s been playing for some time now and [it was decided to bat him high in the order] rather than hiding down in the order and not giving himself enough time.
“He’s been playing fantastic. He’s sort of the glue for us at this point in time, I’m really happy for him and we sort of batted around him and it’s really good to come out on top.”
Asked to bat first at Coolidge Cricket Ground, Jaguars started superbly as the left-handed Hemraj smashed five fours and half-dozen sixes in a thrilling 83-ball knock, putting on 106 for the first wicket with Tevin Imlach who hit 38 off 58 balls with three fours and a six in his first appearance of the tournament.
The stand was becoming worrying when Imlach missed a swing at left-arm spinner Khary Pierre and was bowled in the 21st over and Shimron Hetmyer lasted only 11 balls for his 10, adding 22 for the second wicket before recklessly lofting Khan to long off in the 25th over.
Khan then got the key wicket of Hemraj in the 27th over, edging a cut behind and his dismissal set in train Jaguars’ capitulation as left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein (2-25) chipped into increase the batting side’s misery.
“[The collapse] is kind of hard to explain right now. We weren’t under any kind of pressure and we just let them back in the game,” said Jaguars skipper Leon Johnson.
“Some of the shots we played at the time were uncalled for and it’s something we must address. I think we have to be honest with ourselves in our meeting. The players are much better than they showed today.”
In reply, Jaguars struck two key blows when openers Evin Lewis (4) and Kjorn Ottley (4) both perished cheaply with only 15 runs on the board.
However, Mohammed combined with Bravo in a 112-run, third wicket stand to erase any hopes Jagaurs entertained of a come-from-behind win.
Mohammed counted eight fours in a measured knock while the left-handed Bravo struck half-dozen fours and a six off 77 deliveries.
Bravo was one of two wickets to fell to left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie (2-36) in the space of 26 balls as Nicholas Pooran failed again with 18 to leave Red Force 155 for four in the 34th over but Mohammed and Denesh Ramdin (17 not out) steered Red Force home in a 34-run, unbroken fifth wicket stand.
JAGUARS 187 off 41.5 overs (Chandrapaul Hemraj 87, Tevin Imlach 38; Imran Khan 5-32, Akeal Hosein 2-25) vs RED FORCE 189 for four off 40.2 overs (Jason Mohammed 82 not out, Darren Bravo 58; Gudakesh Motie 2-36). Red Force won by six wickets.