The early morning shuttles and intense days of net training have paid off for the Malta Supreme Guyana team which snatched a 22-run win against the Windward Islands in their thriller played on Tuesday in the 7th match of the NAGICO Super50 tournament.
After systematically pummelling the Irish by 114-runs in their first match, the 9-time champions went one step closer to lifting the Regional 50-over title for the tenth time after defending a delicate 235 against the former champions.
Led by another top knock from Ramnaresh Sarwan who scored a classy 62 and supported by Assad Fudadin who scored a watchful 51 off 148 balls, the two added a 121-run partnership for the second wicket after opener Trevon Griffith was removed early.
Skipper Chris Barnwell scored a solid 51 off 71 balls, while left-hander Leon Johnson continued to flex his muscles operating as the team’s enforcer by bludgeoning three fours and two sixes in his score of 41, which steered Guyana to a safe score after they got off to a shaky start.
At one point Guyana was one wicket for three runs after Griffith edged a swinging delivery from fast bowler Delorn Johnson to keeper Andre Fletcher. Sarwan and Fudadin then batted cautiously to rebuild the innings. The team also staggered at 49 for 1 in 20 overs but the two West Indies batsmen joined forces and set up a platform for Johnson and Barnwell who came in and played more aggressively.
However, despite another positive batting performance by the Guyanese line up, the spotlight of the Malta Supreme team belonged to West Indies Test spinner Veerasammy Permaul and his faster teammate Ronsford Beaton who ended with figures of 3 for 24 and 3 for 43, respectively.
The duo was responsible for Guyana’s win after the former defending champs seemed well on course after requiring a mere 40 from as many as 50 balls with four wickets remaining. The Windward Islands batting saw contributions in vain from Johnson Charles (35), centurion from the last game Keddy Lesporis (33), Tyrone Theophille (31) and Mervin Mathew (24).
But after Beaton and Permaul held their nerves to produce late strikes between overs 42 to 47, it was all over for the Windwards who will today play for pride against Ireland who are also effectively out of the competition. Guyana will now square off against fellow semi-finalist Jamaica tomorrow with both teams looking to gain momentum and points heading into to next week’s first semi-final. Jamaica disposed of the Windwards in their first game and sent Ireland packing in the second which allowed them to qualify for the next stage.
From a batting perspective, Sarwan leads the list of run-getters with 151 runs from his two matches. However, Jamaica also has three of its batters in the top 10 list, including Tamar Lambert third on the list with 115 runs, Andre McCarthy fifth with 94 runs and John Campbell sixth with 87.
Jamaica was also dealt heavy blows when Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels were ruled out of the tournament. They will now depend on the skills of opener Horace Miller, all-rounder Andre Russell, wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh Jr and Nkrumah Bonner to fortify the middle order.
Veteran left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul missed the second match to undergo a medical procedure the day before and was advised by doctors to rest. The experienced batsman is expected to be up and ready for tomorrow’s match and will remain a key figure in Guyana’s top and middle order.
However, the team will need to be more careful and watchful with their stroke play after most of their wickets against the Windwards fell to catches off full-tosses which could have been played differently.
The bowling departments of both teams are experienced and versatile, with Jamaica skipper Dave Bernard Jr. swinging the ball upfront and former West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor and experienced regional fast bowler Andrew Richardson supporting.
Nikita Miller who has been in great form with the ball as well as the bat will be called upon to perform in a dual capacity if needed. Guyana will continue to place their hopes in the hands of Beaton, Permaul, Devendra Bishoo, Paul Wintz and skipper Barnwell who have all been amongst the wickets.
Guyana and Jamaica will now look to make their respective win records three-in-three when they clash in their third day/night match at the Queens Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
GUYANA: Christopher Barnwell (captain), Shiv Chanderpaul (vice captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Anthony Bramble (wicket-keeper), Robin Bacchus, Trevon Griffith, Leon Johnson, Narsingh Deonarine, Royston Crandon, Assad Fudadin, Devendra Bishoo, Veerasammy Permaul, Ronsford Beaton, Paul Wintz; Esuan Crandon (coach)
JAMAICA: David Bernard Jr (captain), Nikita Miller (vice captain), Andre Russell, Carlton Baugh Jr (wicket-keeper), Tamar Lambert, Andrew Richardson, Horace Miller, John Campbell, Jermaine Blackwood, Andre McCarthy, Sheldon Cottrell, Jerome Taylor, Nkrumah Bonner, Kenar Lewis; Junior Bennett (coach)