Victory for Windwards
Windward Islands have sent a strong message to those who still regard them as the whipping boys of regional cricket.
They are genuine championship contenders for the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament.
A hard-fought victory by 17 runs over Jamaica at Kensington Oval on last night was achieved with a sense of precision and purpose and once more underlined that it is folly to try to predict a winner in the extra shorter form of the game.
It was the Windwards’ third victory of the competition, following earlier wins against Combined Campuses and Colleges and Guyana and it landed them top spot in Group A.
They are now awaiting the outcome of Friday night’s final preliminary match between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago to learn who would be their opponents in the first semi-final on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Wary that defeat could have cost them a semifinal spot ahead of Somerset and Jamaica, Windwards displayed a level of determination that must be applauded.
The batting was approached with common sense and urgency, the bowling was disciplined, the catching was sure-handed and the ground fielding was clean for the most part.
A total of 165 for five was set up by breezy contributions from openers, Johnson Charles (25 off 23 balls) and Andre Fletcher (19 off 15 balls) but the heart of the effort was provided with half-centuries by Devon Smith and Keddy Lesporis.
Lesporis was the more enterprising of the two at the start of their third wicket partnership of 91, banging an even fifty off 40 balls that included three fours and a six.
While Smith appeared a trifle slow in the early stages, his acceleration at the end was magnificent and his unbeaten 58 off 39 balls that contained a six and six fours helped the Windwards score 59 from the last five overs.
Jamaica left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie once again created a favourable impression by knocking over the stumps of both openers among his three wickets and Dave Bernard also bowled well, but World Cup bound Andre Russell, used for four one-over spells, went for 44 and showed his frustration after his last ball by dislodging a bail at the striker’s end.
Jamaica, who needed to achieve the target off 17.5 overs to eliminate Windwards from the tournament, started uncertainly with the loss of two wickets in the first three overs.
The first came with a catch at long-off against left-arm spinner Gary Muthurin who typified the standard of the Windwards fielding in the next over when he ran back several yards from point to complete a magnificent catch.
Bubbling with confidence, Muthurin proceded to bowl superbly with flat, fast, accurate stuff in four overs from which Jamaica could only eek nine runs.
When captain Darren Sammy took another smart one-handed catch at straight mid-wicket on the second attempt from a firm stroke by the potentially dangerous Danza Hyatt, Jamaica were 26 for three and in need of a revival.
Marlon Samuels tried his best, batting with some aplomb on the way to 53 off 39 balls and Wavell Hinds also contributed an unbeaten 54 off 44 balls.
Sammy, however, removed Samuels at a critical stage with the help of another good catch by Nelon Pascal just inside the long-off boundary.
At that point, Jamaica needed a further 73 from 5.2 overs and it was evident from there that there would be no denying Windwards.