Trinidad & Tobago are the only team from outside the three countries that own a stake in the Champions League to be given direct entry to the tournament, a special status they justified by topping the league table after hammering one of the CLT20 favourites, Chennai Super Kings.
The already-qualified Super Kings' famed batting had a rare off day, and the team was bowled out for only the seventh time in 117 matches. Having been rolled over for 118, Super Kings couldn't prevent T&T from completing the chase within 17.4 overs, which meant they surrendered the top spot in the group. It left them facing the challenge of breaking Rajasthan Royals' 12-game winning streak at home in the semi-finals.
It was a day when almost everything went right for T&T, epitomised by the game Man-of-the-Match Lendl Simmonds had. Simmons came into this match on the back of two ducks but contributed with bat, ball and in the field in T&T's dominant performance.
Simmons' first contribution to the game came in the 9th over, by when Super Kings had got off to a familiar solid start. M Vijay and Suresh Raina were stroking the ball around and another tall total looked on the cards, but Simmons struck first ball with a loosener well outside off that Vijay inside-edged onto the stumps. In his next over he had Raina squandering his wicket by helping a gentle leg-stump delivery to short fine leg.
Then came the biggest wicket of them all, MS Dhoni's, just when the Super Kings captain was looking to cut loose. In the 17th over, Dhoni top-edged an attempted big hit and the ball swirled towards Simmons at long-on. Simmons settled under it but the ball bounced off his palm and onto his neck; he kept his eyes on the ball and grabbed it on the second attempt. After that, instead of the usual final flourish, Super Kings made only 16 runs in the concluding three overs.
Simmons had fortune with bat as well, cluelessly edging the first ball of the chase from R Ashwin between the keeper and slip, and surviving a stumping shout after being beaten off the second. His innings only switched to top gear in the 10th over when Ravindra Jadeja conceded 19 to extend a horrendous run in the tournament. Simmons was also dropped just before reaching his half-century but a series of brutal hits had already eased T&T towards victory.
There was plenty of support for Simmons: opener Evin Newis had another good game with the bat to ensure Super Kings didn't pull off a heist, Ravi Rampaul began the Super Kings collapse with a screamer to dismiss the uber-consistent Michael Hussey, Sunil Narine was at his miserly best and three Super Kings batsmen were run out as the team collapsed from 78 for 2 to 118 all out.
In the four times they have played the CLT20, T&T have had only one bad campaign – last year when they were knocked out after one loss and a washout in the qualifiers – and this table-topping performance underlined why they are among the best T20 sides in the world.
Courtesy of cricinfo