By Sean Devers in Trinidad In Association with Digicel, Carib Beer,
Giftland Office Max, Payless Variety Store & Leisure Inn & Car Rentals
When the Windward Islands, led by an invaluable unbeaten 44 from injured 20-year-old Darwin Telemaque, pulled off a thrilling upset one-wicket win against Guyana in Grenada to win in the 1989 Final, it was the first of their three titles and was achieved in the very last over in what ranks among the most exciting Regional 50-over finals since the competition began in 1976.
Today, at the Queens Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, they come up against the Guyana Malta Supreme in the 2014 NAGICO Regional Super50 tournament as the defending Champions after beating CCC in last year’s final in Barbados to claim their first title in 13 years.
When the two teams last met at this level in St Vincent, the Islanders won by seven wickets despite half-centuries from Trevon Griffith and Leon Johnson. Devon Smith’s commanding undefeated 110 and a responsible 41 from Keddy Lesporis led them to 199-3, replying to Guyana’s 198-8.
Both teams head into today’s Day/Night encounter coming off of contrasting first round results in a zone that’s been tagged the group of death. Last year’s Semi-Finalist Jamaica and 2015 World Cup qualifiers Ireland are the other teams in Zone A.
In the opening match (a replay of the 2013 semis) Jamaica posted a ground record 282-5 in 50 overs and the Windwards responded with 268-8 with Lesporis making an even unbeaten ton to become the first non-Trinidadian to register a century at the ‘Oval’ and Smith supported with 52.
The Guyana Malta Supreme side, led by an attractive 89 from Man-of-the-Match Ramnaresh Sarwan and half-centuries from openers Shiv Chanderpaul and Griffith ensured the Guyanese broke Jamaica’s record total by reaching 301-3, only the second time in Regional 50 overs cricket that they had reached 300 runs.
The Irish were creamed by 114 runs as they slumped to 27-4 and never recovered with Paul Wintz taking 3-30. Ronsford Beaton and Narsingh Deonarine picked up two wickets each for the South Americans.
The Guyanese have an early lead in the zone although both the Guyana Malta Supreme and Jamaica had victories in their first game. The Guyanese (5 points) are one point ahead of the Jamaicans because of the bonus point they received from their win against Ireland.
Today on what should be another pitch with some assistance for the pacers, Ronsford Beaton, Paul Wintz (who had an impressive spell in the first match) and Skipper Christopher Barnwell could trouble the batsmen.
Beaton is among the quickest in the tournament, but he seemed tired in his ‘come back’ spell and his pace dipped but nevertheless openers Smith and Johnson Charles, both with West Indies experience, should have their hands full against the new ball since they could both want to ‘take on’ the fast bowlers.
Test Spinners Veerasammy Permaul and Devendra Bishoo, who at times bowled a bit too short, should get spin support from Narsingh Deonarine and Royston Crandon.
The Guyana batting is rock solid with the experienced Shiv Chanderpaul and Trevon Griffith both scoring fifties as they shared in Guyana’s second highest Opening stand in the first match.
They built a firm foundation but took too long to do so, something the team would have discussed. Griffith needs to be more aggressive and while the others bat around Chanderpaul, who faced too many dot balls in the opening game, leaving too little time for the others to bat.
Barnwell was his usual pugnacious self, while Johnson played excellently in his unbeaten cameo towards the end of the innings but the brightest spot in the Guyana batting was the return to form of Ramnaresh Sarwan.
He accelerated wonderfully during his 89 not out from just 62 balls and looks the Sarwan of old. It’s important that he continues in that manner throughout the tournament. If he can reproduce his form of 2005 when Guyana last won the title and he scored a record three tons, Guyana should go all the way to take their 10th title this year.
Crandon, Anthony Bramble, Permaul, Bishoo and Wintz are all capable of quick runs and Guyana’s batting is arguable the most powerful line-up in the tournament.
Although Keddy Lesporis became the first non Trinidadian to register a hundred at the ‘Oval’, Smith, Charles and Andre Fletcher all failed to build on starts against Jamaica, while Tyrone Theophile, skipper Liam Sebastien and Romel Currency have been around at this level for a while and are depended on to contribute with the bat.
Even without banned off-spinner Shane Shillingford and injured all-rounder Darren Sammy, the Windwards attack is still strong. The left-arm pair of Kenroy Peters and Delorn Johnson will expect support from Marvin Matthew, while St Lucian left-armer Garey Mathurin and off-spinner Sebastien will aim to contain the Guyana Malta Supreme batting line-up on what is anticipated to be another lightening fast outfield.
The contest is scheduled to commence at 14:00hrs and the Guyanese are expected to play an unchanged team today.
Pic – , Keddy Lesporis
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