The presence of Trinidad & Tobago is what makes the Champions League T20 a most unusual tournament.
For unlike the Mumbai Indians, their opponents on Monday, they are not a franchise. Nor are they a provincial side such as the Warriors or the South Australian Redbacks. They aren’t a county team like Somerset.
T&T is a full-blown national side that happens to have won over other Caribbean nations such as Barbados and Jamaica to qualify for the CLT20. In that sense, T&T have that much more to play for but as they showed in the inaugural edition of the tournament held in India in 2009, that fact doesn’t play much on their mind. They simply go out there and enjoy themselves.
They will know that MI, who are sadly without enough Mumbai or Indian players, are tough opponents to draw in the first game. But then, Darren Ganga’s men will also be aware that there are indeed no free lunches in this tournament, not after the qualifiers were introduced. Of course, meals will be that much easier to come by if you win the $6 million tournament.
T&T’s chief strength is their uncomplicated approach to the game. In Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo they have two of the most talented batsmen in the Caribbean while pacer Ravi Rampaul has time and again showed that he should have played more often than he has at the highest levels.
Ironically, their biggest threat could come from one of their own, a man they unleashed in the same tournament in 2009.
In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, the role of Kieron Pollard becomes even more crucial for MI, even if in the words of the great Sunil Gavaskar, he flattered to deceive in Chennai on Saturday night.