By Sam Soopperrsaud
Congratulations to Skipper Derick Narine and his USA Dream Xl in winning the World Series T20 Blast Tournament championship over the Independence Weekend, July 4th and 5th. The tournament interchangeably referred to as the Eight-Nation Tournament or the World Series T20 Blast, saw representative teams from Bangladesh, India, Guyana, Pakistan, USA, Combined Island (WI), Jamaica, and a Rest of the World XI participating. The tournament was a scheduled three-day affair, but Mother Nature gave us inclement weather on Saturday, and no play was possible. The administrators decided on a shorter format. But with one day lost, the preliminary rounds were T10 affairs and the playoffs a T15 match up. The organizers managed to have all the games played over the allotted two-day period.
Once started, there were no more rain delays or game cancellations. The games were played at Idlewild Park and Baisley Pond Park in Queens, New York. The thousands of fans who watched the games during the two days thoroughly enjoyed the shortened versions of the game. Numerous of them openly expressed their delight and enthusiasm for the T10 format. It was nonstop action: bowling, fielding, batting, and maneuvering players to gain play advantages.
Like all tournaments, there were disappointments. The teams coming up short hung their heads. Guyana, I felt was devastated at not being able to make the finals. They had played winning cricket in the preliminary rounds, winning all three games by convincingly chasing down the required totals while losing only three wickets. They chased and overcame totals in the 130s in 10 overs with balls to spare. However, in the finals, they appeared to be a completely different team. Many felt that they lost their semi-final game due to a lack of planning. They needed 129 runs to win. They went about their task as if it was a 10-over affair.
Let me briefly recap the tournament. At the end of the preliminary rounds, the top two teams in each of the two divisions took part in the playoffs. The top team in Division A played the second team in Division B. The top team in Division B played the second team in Division A. In the semi-finals, India played Jamaica while Guyana squared off against USA Dream XI. The semi-finals were in the T15 format. India narrowly defeated Jamaica to qualify for a spot in the final.
In the other semi-final game, Guyana was given a shock by the USA Dream XI. I feel that they outsmarted themselves. They went about chasing a gettable total set by their opponents without a proper plan. USA Dream XI scored 128 runs. Skipper Derick Narine contributed a boundary and a maximum studded 60 runs. Guyana started their run chase as if they had only ten overs instead of 15 overs to get the required runs for victory. Numerous batters lost their wicket playing injudicious shots. Non-shots, I should say. They appeared to be in a hurry to get the required runs. On paper, they had a formidable batting line-up. However, they were unprepared and unable to cope with the spin of Masud Haque, 5 for 14, his second fiver of the day. Guyana fell short by 18 runs.
In the finals, USA Dream XI steam-rolled over Team India. The USA Dream Xl scored 168 runs. Christopher Van Tull made 69, supported by Dino Choweenam with 37. India appeared unlucky in the run chase and fell for a mere 97 runs. A one-sided affair. It was a convincing win by USA Dream XI.
Throughout the tournament, Skipper Derick Narine was a stand-out for his team in handling his troops and his batting. His only failure was in the final, where he was dismissed without scoring. Derick Narine must be commended for leading his team and winning the championship. I have followed Derick’s cricket career since he played for John Adams High School in the PSAL League. He has matured immensely, both as a player and a person. Derick Narine’s dad, Capo, must be given considerable credit for being at the side of his son, coaching and advising him.
Again, congratulations to the USA Dream XI for their championship run in the World Series T20 Blast 2021.