GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – Guyana withstood a late charge from Leeward Islands to carve out a 14-run win and take a huge stride towards a spot in the playoffs of the Caribbean Twenty20 here Thursday night.
Chris Barnwell’s unbeaten 61 fired them to a challenging 156 for three off their 20 overs and they did well in the death overs to hold off the rampaging Devon Thomas and Chesney Hughes, to restrict the Leewards to 142 for five at the end of their innings.
Thomas stroked an unbeaten 46 and Hughes cracked 26, in a 54-run, fourth wicket stand off just 29 balls that pulled the Windwards around from 68 for three in the 12th over.
However, pacers Ronsford Beaton and Barnwell combined in the last three overs to dry up the scoring and take vital wickets, to end the Leewards’ hopes of a dramatic win at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
Winning the toss and batting, Guyana got a great start from Shiv Chanderpaul and Derwin Christian who put on 59 from 61 balls for the first wicket.
The veteran Chanderpaul stroked 30 off 37 balls while Christian struck 28 from 30 balls with a four and two sixes.
Hughes’s introduction, however, saw Guyana’s scoring tail off and the left-arm spinner, who finished with two for 21 from his four overs, struck twice to bring Leewards back into the game.
He got the breakthrough when he prised out Christian off a caught and bowl chance in the 11th over and in his next over accounted for Chanderpaul, bowled playing back.
Barnwell then took matters into his own hands, hammering six fours and three sixes in a 36-ball knock and anchoring two key partnerships to see Guyana to their eventual total.
He added 32 off 29 balls for the third wicket with Ramnaresh Sarwan (12) and then combined in an explosive, unbroken fourth wicket partnership of 53 off 18 balls with Royston Crandon who smashed two sixes in gathering a brisk 16 not out from just six balls.
They ambushed teenaged off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall in his only over, the 18th of the innings that cost 20 runs and then followed up by taking seamer Kelbert Walters to task in the next over which leaked 15 runs.
Barnwell passed his half-century in the last over, when he slammed two fours and a six over long-on off medium pacer Shane Burton, to ensure Guyana finished on a high.
West Indies opener Kieran Powell then provided the early fireworks for Leewards, cracking a six and a four off Beaton’s over that yielded 13 runs, following a quiet opening over from off-spinner Steven Jacobs..
Lyndel Richardson perished for nine at 27 for one in the sixth over but Powell and Javia Liburd (26) put on 35 for the second wicket to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The left-handed Powell’s 27 came at a run-a-ball and included a four and two sixes while Liburd got 26 from 31 balls with a four and a six. Both fell in successive overs, however, to leave the Leewards wandering at 68 for three in the 13th over.
Thomas and Hughes then came to the party with an excellent attacking display, as the Leewards rebounded in style. The right-handed Thomas slammed four sixes off 27 balls and Hughes joined in with a four and two sixes his 15-ball knock.
With 41 required from the last three overs, Hughes fell in the 18th to Beaton and in the following over, Justin Athanaze perished at the hands of Barnwell, to all but quell Leewards’ revival.