Partab Ramchand

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It will be one for the storybooks

They came into the Champions League unheralded and unsung. Surely they wouldn't be a match for the more glamorous and stronger sides from Australia and England, India and South Africa and the cynics penciled them in for an early return.

 

On the contrary not only have Trinidad & Tobago delivered but they have done so with panache. The Champions League hasn't really come anywhere near the thrills and excitement of the IPL and the exit of all three Indian teams before the semifinals has clearly robbed the inaugural tournament of much of its sheen. But the spectators' disappointment has somewhat been assuaged by the showing of the Caribbean side. 

 

Suddenly, they have a new team to root for as the Champions League enters its climactic stages. And what a transformation in the scenario! Trinidad & Tobago are no longer underdogs and according to Boeta Dippenaar they are the favourites to win the title.

The South African batsman should know something about what they are capable of for they thrashed the bowling of the Diamond Eagles - which Dippenaar captained - to amass 213 for four in 20 overs. That made it five out of five for the Darren Ganga and his men - the only team in the  competition with an all-win record.

 

What is the secret of their success? Obviously, a spirit of unity prevails as Ganga's men are clearly driven by the pride of carrying the flag of the only sovereign nation among the 12 participating teams. They have proved that a team without any big names but possessing a sense of unity can work wonders. But of course, Trinidad & Tobago also have a mission of going some way to restoring the reputation of the West Indies.

 

When they landed in India cricket in the Caribbean was going through a great deal of turmoil thanks to the long standing impasse between the West Indies Cricket Board and the players over contractual issues. The dispute has since been solved but ripples remain and Ganga's men were keen on setting the record straight. And what better way to accomplish it than by sterling deeds on the field.

 

Trinidad & Tobago have indeed been a revelation. Not only has their cricket been more than laced with the Caribbean spirit they have been remarkably consistent. That is not one quality that is generally associated with West Indian cricket but in the Champions League they have batted, bowled and fielded as if their lives have depended on it.

 

The batsmen have loved hitting the ball hard and high, epitomized by Kieron Pollard's remarkable unbeaten 54 off just 18 balls against New South Wales Blues as he literally grabbed victory from defeat and the bowlers have given the batsmen little respite symbolized by Dwayne Bravo's haul of ten wickets – more than any other bowler in the tournament. The fieldsman have dived and leapt to bring off stunning catches or make miraculous stops.

 

The success of Trinidad & Tobago has also been a triumph for youth. They are a young, bustling side full of enthusiasm symbolized by 19-year-old Adrian Barath. In his first Twenty20 match he opened the batting and hit 63 off 41 balls against Diamond Eagles.

 

The spirit of adventurism in their cricket is best exemplified by fielding a leg spinner, an off spinner and a left arm spinner in some of their matches. Suddenly, the low profile squad has become a high profile unit and the team to beat. They have become the cynosure and some of their personnel have become well known names and earned the right to be called entertainers in true Caribbean tradition. And Ganga who has proved to be an inspirational skipper has fully realized the emotional aspect by saying that the victories a have not only been for Trinidad & Tobago but also for West Indian cricket which has been going through a lean period for some time now.

 

Being together for some years now has  obviously been a source of comfort and inspiration and if they can go all the way and lift the trophy on Friday, it will really be one for the storybooks.

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