Playing before a sold-out crowd at Queen’s Park Oval, Red Steel successfully defended their 178 for five, stifling the Tridents’ dangerous batting line-up, to take their first ever CPL title in the third edition of the regional professional Twenty20 tournament.
Opting to bat first, Red Steel were propelled by Pakistani Kamran Akmal who top-scored with 60 off 46 balls, while South African opener Cameron Delport hit 50 from 38 deliveries.
The pair put on 102 for the second wicket after opener Jacques Kallis fell cheaply for eight with the score on 18 in the third over.
Captain Dwayne Bravo struck an unbeaten 29 off 15 deliveries.
Seamers Rayad Emrit (2-25) and Kieron Pollard (2-28) picked up two wickets apiece.
In reply, Tridents started well but then fell away as the runs dried up. Opener Dwayne Smith lashed a top score of 49 from 30 balls, putting on 47 off 25 balls for the first wicket with Steven Taylor, who hit 20 off 10 balls.
Once Smith fell in the 10th over with the score on 85 for two, Tridents stumbled badly and the run rate climbed steadily, leaving them needing 26 off the last over.
Barbadian left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn performed the final rites, sending down a final over which cost just six runs, to hand Red Steel the title.
Benn finished with two for 24.
Akmal earned Man-of-the-Match honours for his electrifying innings, while Dwayne Bravo was voted Man-of-the-Series for his 28 wickets and 173 runs.
Tridents would have been thrilled when Kallis missed a swing at left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and was bowled off-stump, but Akmal and Delport then capitalised on loose bowling to pile on the runs.
The right-handed Akmal lashed five fours and two sixes, and the left-handed Delport six fours and two sixes as Red Steel hit back strongly.
Having only reached 68 for one at the halfway mark, however, the damage came in the last 10 overs. Red Steel plundered 110 runs from the last 10 and scored at a rate of 12 per over in the last five.
Akmal, dropped on 44 in the 12th over by Ashley Nurse in the deep off Pollard, reached his half-century with a six over mid-wicket two overs later off the indifferent Ravi Rampaul, whose three overs leaked 47 runs.
Pollard eventually removed both batsmen in the 16th over, having Delport caught and bowled and then accounting for Akmal, holing out in the deep to Nurse.
Red Steel were still only 136 for three at the start of the 18th over, but Rampaul sent down an atrocious over which cost 24 runs – including a six, a four, along with eight wides.
In reply, Smith threatened to run away with the game for Tridents, hammering four fours and three sixes, as the visitors raced to 58 for one after five overs.
The left-handed Taylor, who shaped up well with three fours and a six, played back to off-spinner Johan Botha’s first delivery and was lbw; but his dismissal brought in Kyle Corbin, who batted slowly, and his second-wicket partnership of 38 with Smith needed 32 balls.
Corbin, in his first game of the tournament, struggled for his 20 off 28 balls without once finding the boundary. When Smith dragged on to Benn in the 10th over, Corbin and Pakistani Misbah-ul-Haq (21) struggled to get the ball away and snuffed the life out of the Tridents innings with a pedantic stand of 32 off 27 balls for the third wicket.
By the time they both fell in the space of four balls, Tridents were going nowhere at 118 for four in the 15th over and required nearly 12 runs an over for victory.
This never materialised, however. Though Pollard and Jason Holder – both of whom finished on 20 not out -added 40 for the fifth wicket, neither could find the boundary with any regularity as Red Steel’s bowlers kept their shape.