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‘Blues’ have it

Ezra Stuart

‘Blues’ have it

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ICBL EMPIRE are $15 000 richer and a new trophy will be added to the many which already adorn their historic Bank Hall club house.The “Blues” captured the Sagicor General Twenty20 Cup for the first time with a comfortable 26–run victory over Sagicor Life UWI in an uninterrupted rescheduled cricket final at Kensington Oval, last night.After winning the toss and batting, Empire reached a challenging 152 for eight in their allotted 20 overs, but were credited nine bonus runs after match officials penalised UWI for a slow over-rate.It meant that UWI were given a victory target of 162 runs, but they were restricted to 135 for six after being rocked by a three-wicket new-ball blitz by new West Indies “A” Team allrounder Kevin Stoute, which left them reeling on 46 for three.Coach/player Floyd Reifer (37, 2×4, 1×6) and fellow left-hander Omar Phillips (28, 2×4) tried to put UWI back on course with a 60-run fourth wicket alliance in 9.4 overs, but both fell in consecutive overs at the same score following run-a-ball knocks to leave UWI on 108 for five.Experienced Trinidad and Tobago left-arm spinner Dave Mohammed, who was introduced at 92 for three after 13 overs with 70 runs required in the last seven overs, swung the match decisively in favour of Empire.The former West Indies Test bowler not only stifled the scoring, conceding 10 runs in his first three overs, but also had Phillips stumped and Craig Emmanuel, caught behind for just one.In between, slow medium bowler Andre Evelyn removed Reifer with his first ball as the proverbial “Fat Lady” started to sing UWI’s final rites.Earlier, despite a protest from UWI over the type of balls which were used, Empire got an encouraging start after winning the toss, with openers Jason Hinds (29, 3×4, 30 balls) and Jason Haynes (18, 2×4, 12 balls) putting on 37 in 4.5 overs.Haynes launched pacer Gilford Moore over extra cover and square drove for consecutive boundaries in the second over of the innings which yielded 16 runs.But after he was bowled attempting a heave at Parris, Jason Hinds, who returned to deliver four mean overs of flat spin for 19 runs, twice pulled off-spinner Ryan Austin, who had opened the bowling, to the long leg fence and lifted Parris wide of long-on for another four to bring up Empire’s 50 in 6.3 overs.However, after he was well caught by Austin running in from long-on in Liam Sebastien’s first over with the score on 60 for two, and Mohammed, strangely promoted to No.4, followed at 67 for three, his older brother Ryan, who started slowly, managing just 11 off his first 17 balls, and Stoute, with a cameo 20 off 17 balls, added 46 in 5.5 overs.UWI had a couple of chances to claim Hinds as wicketkeeper Simon Naitram wasn’t alert in making a leg-side stumping when he was 12 off Austin. Naitram made amends somewhat when Hinds missed his charge at left-arm spinner Kavesh Kantasingh.But UWI generally didn’t help their cause with four overthrows and some sloppy fielding.In response, UWI started disastrously when captain Romel Currency was caught at first slip by Ryan Hinds off Stoute, who also uprooted the middle stump of Parris after the batsman had lifted him overhead for the first six of the match.Miles Bascombe also cover drove Stoute for four and deposited him over long-off for six, but the bowler had the last laugh, when the batsman reached for a slower ball and skied a catch to Graham, coming off the long-off boundary.UWI’s 50 was posted in 7.3 overs and by the halfway stage, they were 66 for three. Reifer then cut Ryan Hinds for four and smashed Javon Searles for a straight six while Phillips also pulled Searles for a boundary.But once Mohammed came on, UWI’s innings stuttered. There was some drama for the 600-odd spectators in the 3Ws Stand as Phillips pulled a full toss from Mohammed and struck square-leg umpire Gregory Brathwaite on his leg, while wicketkeeper Jamal Smith and bowler Ryan Hinds looked at each other as the ball from a miscued slog sweep by Reifer dropped between them on the pitch.The miss surely wasn’t costly as Reifer skied Evelyn’s first delivery, and even though Moore hit Mohammed for a six over midwicket in his final over which cost 15 runs, there was no stopping Empire.