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Martin’s the man

Ezra Stuart, in Jamaica

Martin’s the man

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A sensational hat trick by leg-spinner Anthony Martin propelled the Leeward Islands into Sunday’s final of the WICB Regional One-Day Cricket Championship.Five-times champions, the Leewards superbly defended their total of213 to narrowly defeat the Windward Islands – 209-9 in 50 overs – by four runs in their semi-final at Sabina Park, earlier today.With the Windwards needing 40 runs in the final six overs with four wickets in hand, Martin bowled topscorer Lyndon James (64, 4×4, 2×6, 87 balls) and then removed Shane Shillingford (bowled) and Mervin Matthew (trapped leg before wicket) for first ball “ducks” in consecutive balls of the 45th over to tilt the match the Leewards’ way.But a heroic 35-run last-wicket stand between Gary Mathurin (19 not out) and Nelon Pascal (18 not out), almost took the Windwards to their victory target.Fifteen runs were taken off the next over from captain Wilden Cornwall and with Martin ending with the excellent figures of 10-1-23-3, 11 runs were required off the final over bowled by pacer Lionel Baker.Pascal struck the first ball for four through midwicket but the boundary was dramatically voided by umpire Norman Malcolm, who signalled a “dead ball”.Earlier, the Leewards, who won the toss and batted, were paced to their final total of 213 in 49 overs by left-handed opener Chesney Hughes, who made a responsible 81.The 20-year-old Derbyshire county player, hit seven fours in his 105-ball knock while featuring in a fifth-wicket stand of 76 runs with his captain Wilden Cornwall, who made 38 off 57 balls with four boundaries.Windwards and new West Indies captain Darren Sammy celebrated his 100th List A match by capturing four for 47 also reaching the 100-wicket mark in 50-over games.He got excellent support from off-spinner Shane Shillingford, two for 30 and pacer Mervin Matthews (2-37). Spinners Sebastian and Mathurin also bowled economically.When the Windwards replied, Baker gave the Leewards a dream start by having their two top batsmen, Devon Smith and André Fletcher in the first over of the innings for “ducks”.Opener Johnson Charles tried to consolidate the innings with a patient 34 off 64 balls but was unfortunately run out, attempting a second run.The Windwards slumped to 85 for five when Sammy softly hit a full toss from rookie slow bowler Jacques Taylor into Martin’s hand at long-on.James and Sebastian then linked up for a crucial sixth-wicket partnership of 80 runs but after Cornwall broke the stand, an ecstatic Martin made a telling triple strike.His celebration of each wicket reminded the 50-odd spectators of Barbados’ pacer Tino Best as he raced around the field with his teammates behind him while pointing to his name at the back of his jersey.
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