In a nail-biting finish Guyana defeated the Windward Islands by four wickets to set up a showdown with Chris Gayle’s Jamaicans today for a spot in tomorrow’s final of the West Indies Cricket Board’s T20 tournament at Gros Islet, St Lucia yesterday.
Sent in the Windwards lost wickets regularly and were 84-7 before an eight wicket partnership of 33 runs between Shane Shillingford and Liam Sebastien not only saw them reaching three figures but also gave them a fighting total to defend.
Earlier, Guyana skipper Veerasammy Permaul decided that Guyana would field first after he won the toss and his decision to open with Steven Jacobs also paid dividends when the bowler began with a wicket maiden dismissing Johnson Charles caught and bowled for nought as the batsman got a leading edge.
Jacobs struck again with the fourth ball of his second over as Miles Bascombe drove a delivery to mid on where Ronsford Beaton took the catch and the Windwards were in a spot of bother on 2/2 after three overs.
Former West Indies opener Devon Smith and West Indies T20 player Andre Fletcher attempted to consolidate. Smith punched a delivery from Christopher Barnwell for four through midwicket while in Jacobs’s next over Ramnaresh Sarwan put down Fletcher at short mid wicket with the score on 10/2.
To add insult to injury Fletcher pulled the very next delivery to the midwicket boundary and the two took the score to 27 before Smith was bowled by leg spinner Devendra Bishoo’s googly for 10 with two fours.
Keddy Lesporis came in and took a liking to the spinners hitting a delivery from Permaul for six while Fletcher made the most of his chance by cutting a delivery from Crandon behind point for another boundary as the Windwards reached 45-3 at the half way mark.
With Guyana desperate to break the threatening partnership, Permaul introduced Beaton who did the trick by removing Fletcher as the batsman tried to go over the top and was caught by Jacobs for 16 from 30 balls with two fours.
The Windwards were struggling at 48-4 after 11 overs but Lesporis fought fire with fire striking Bishoo for a huge six while Windwards skipper Darren Sammy joined the `Sixers Club’ by hitting Beaton over midwicket as the Windwards reached 67-4 after 13 overs.
Guyana gained the key wicket of Lesporis run out through a direct hit of the stumps from Leon Johnson in the deep. He had made 26 from 21 balls with two sixes and two balls later Bishoo bowled wicketkeeper Lyndon James without scoring as the Windwards slumped to 84-6.
When Beaton got the prized wicket of Sammy deceived by a slower ball and holing out to Jacobs running in from long off, Guyana were in control.
Sammy’s run-a-ball 18 included one four and a six but from 84-7 Shillingford and Sebastien took the score to 117-7 with Sebastien not out on 15 and Shillingford not out 17, 3 runs coming off the final over bowled by Bishoo.
Jacobs was the pick of the Guyana bowlers with 2-12 from his four overs while Beaton ended with 2-25, Bishoo 2-26 and Crandon 1-14 from two overs.
Guyana got off to a rousing start mainly through the power hitting of wicketkeeper Derwin Christian who blasted five fours in his top score of 39.
After a watchful first over bowled by Sammy which produced a solitary run, Christian hit Garey Mathurin for four and in the next over took three boundaries off Sammy as he raced to 22 and the Guyana score 23-0 after three overs.
The first ball of Sammy’s second over was pulled over square leg, the third pulled to the midwicket boundary and the fifth a slower deliver played to the fine leg boundary.
Chanderpaul was content to let Christian do the bulk of the scoring but he got into the act by dispatching Shillingford to the long on boundary before he was forced to leave the field injured
Guyana lost some momentum when Chanderpaul was forced to retire hurt after making eight runs from 16 balls as Ramnaresh Sarwan eked out seven runs from 15 balls and after 10 overs Guyana were 46-0 needing 72 from 60 balls.
They lost their first wicket that of Sarwan with the score on 54 when the batsman pulled a short delivery from Mathurin to Lesporis at deep midwicket and when Christian was run out for 39 from 41 balls with five fours Guyana were 59-2.
Four runs later Narsingh Deonarine was out caught by Charles as Mathurin grabbed his second wicket.
Barnwell seemed to be picking up from his last match when he lofted a delivery from his last match when he lofted a delivery from Sebastien for six over midwicket while Leon Johnson took two fours from his namesake Delorn Johnson in an over that cost 11 runs as Guyana reached 87-3 after 16 overs.
Leon Johnson thenhit a delivery from Shillingford over long on for six but after pulling a delivery from Sammy to the backward square leg boundary for four he was deceived by a slower delivery and offered the West Indies captain a simple return catch.
When Barnwell went in the next over caught by Lesporis at cover, the game was in the balance but Royston Crandon hit a six in the final over bowled by Charles before being out with two runs to get leaving Jacobs to take a single off the penultimate delivery and the Guyanese batsmen to scamper the winning run after the ball hit Permaul’s pads and went into the midwicket area.