A superb all-round showing from Lendl Simmons helped Trinidad and Tobago crush a formidable Chennai Super Kings by nine wickets to clinch a semi-final berth in the Champions League T20, at the Feroz Shah Kotla, in Delhi, on Wednesday.
Trinidad outbatted, outbowled and outfielded Mahendra Singh Dhoni's outfit as they chased down a paltry target of 119 in only 15.1 overs to pip Chennai to the top position in group by virtue of a better net run-rate.
Trinidad needed to win the match in 17.4 overs but they achieved the feat 2.3 overs in advance to enjoy a far better net run-rate of +0.816 than Chennai's +0.271.
Trinidad will take on IPL champions Mumbai Indians in the second semi-final on Saturday while Chennai will travel to Jaipur where they will meet Rajasthan Royals, who have remained unbeaten at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, in the first semi-final on Friday.
Lendl Simmons played a pivotal role in his team's fantastic showing as he took crucial wickets of Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina for only 10 runs and then smashed his way to 63 off 41 balls with five boundaries and four sixes.
For Trinidad, medium pacer Rayad Emrit (3 for 21) was the most successful bowler while Ravi Rampaul claimed two wickets besides Simmons. Mystery spinner Sunil Narine (12 in 4 overs) kept a tight leash on the CSK batsmen.
It was a match where Chennai performed well below par and much of the blame should be taken by their batsmen who failed to notch up a decent enough total. With seven players failing to reach double digits and poor running between the wickets led to three run outs.
A paltry total of 118 in 19.4 overs was never going to be enough on a slow Kotla track and Simmons and Evin Lewis (38) added 79 runs for the opening stand to shut out any hopes that Chennai would have had to come back in the match.
While Ravichandran Ashwin (1/24) was economical and Suresh Raina (1/16) did his bit to contain the Trinidad batsmen, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was taken to the cleaners by Simmons who scored the bulk of the 30 runs the Saurashtra all-rounder gave away in two overs.
Earlier, a rare batting collapse by the much vaunted Chennai Super Kings batting line-up saw them get bundled out for a paltry 118 in 19.4 overs.
After putting CSK into bat, Denesh Ramdin marshalled his resources well as the bowlers performed as a unit with a disciplined effort. The Chennai batsmen didn't do their cause any good with shoddy running between the wickets that led to three run-outs.
For Trinidad, Rayad Emrit (3 for 21) was the most successful bowler while Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul claimed two wickets apiece.
Only three CSK batsmen – Murali Vijay (27), Suresh Raina (38) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25) reached double figures.
There was a middle-order collapse with Dwayne Bravo (2), Ravindra Jadeja (3), Albie Morkel (4) and S Badrinath (3) all getting out cheaply.
Pacer Ravi Rampaul had given the visitors a perfect start when he removed Michael Hussey (1) in the second over of the innings. Rampaul, who went wicketless in the last two games after grabbing four in his team's opening match against the Titans, got the ball to come in from good length, castling Hussey's off-stump.
Vijay and in-form Suresh Raina then forged a 55-run stand in 39 balls for the second wicket to set up a decent platform for the hard hitters after Hussey went cheaply.
CSK made a decent start with 48 runs being scored in the first six overs of the Powerplay.
Just when the duo looked settled for more, Vijay played a loose shot off gentle medium pacer Lendl Simmons and played on to the stumps. Vijay failed to convert on a start as he was dismissed for 27 from 23 balls that included four exquisite boundaries on the off-side.
Dhoni walked in to a rousing welcome by a packed holiday crowd at the the Feroze Shah Kotla stadium. But the CSK skipper, who had been in brilliant touch, could not replicate the magical knock he played against Sunrisers Hyderabad as his careful run-a-ball knock of 25 included just two fours before he holed out medium pacer Emirt to Simmons, who completed a well judged catch at long-on.
Image: Lendl Simmons