BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – A typically enterprising half-century from Xavier Marshall followed-up by a decisive spell of left-arm fast bowling from Krishmar Santokie carried Jamaica to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Twenty20 Championship on Thursday.
Marshall struck half-dozen fours and a pair of sixes in an unbeaten 62 from 57 balls as Jamaica, chasing 125 for victory from their allocation of 20 overs, hit the jackpot with 14 balls remaining in the second match of the competition.
Santokie had snared three wickets for 20 runs from four overs, which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.
The Leewards were restricted to 124 for seven from their 20 overs after they decided to bat on a typically hard, true Kensington Oval pitch.
But Marshall celebrated his return to the Jamaican national side with a volley of strokes, particularly following the departure of West Indies captain Chris Gayle for 22.
Gayle was run out going for a single failing to beat `keeper Kerry Mentore’s throw to bowler Anthony Martin in the eighth over.
Marlon Samuels arrived for his first major official match since his two-year ban for ill-advised contacts with an Indian bookmaker ended, and looked very rusty.
But Marshall was in full flow, reaching his 50 from 51 balls with a lovely drive to long-off for a single off Tonito Willett, as the Jamaicans waltzed to victory.
Earlier, the Leewards batting became unglued, following a sedate start from Javier Liburd and Shane Jeffers.
They lost the two openers, as well their captain Wilden Cornwall slipping from 35-0 to 35-3 in the space of seven deliveries.
Gayle made the breakthrough by having Liburd caught at mid-wicket for 25 before Santokie struck from successive balls of the next over.Santokie bowled Jeffers for five and Leewards’ captain Wilden Cornwall for a first-ball duck.
Television replays suggested that Santokie should have completed a hat-trick with the first ball of his next over, but umpire Peter Nero dubiously ruled “not-out” for a palpable lbw appeal to Willett.
Jamaica were then put on the back-foot, with Willett hitting the top score of 37 in a partnership of 60 for the fourth wicket with Runako Morton, the best stand of the Leewards’ innings.
The Jamaicans then regained control, as the Leewards stumbled their way through the last five overs of their innings.
Jamaica meet Canada in their second match from 4 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean Time) today, and four hours later, the Leewards face Trinidad & Tobago.