North Sound, Antigua – The West Indies Cricket Board’s Caribbean T20 got off to an exciting start as Windward Islands and Guyana earned hard-fought victories to go top of Group A on Monday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Leon Johnson celebrates after hitting the winning runs.

Windward skipper Darren Sammy took the Star of the Match award in his team’s 11-run win over defending champs Trinidad & Tobago. In the second match, left-hander Leon Johnson won the Star of the Match award as 2010 champs Guyana batted well to beat home boys Leeward Islands by five wickets.

The 24-year-old Johnson, in just his first Caribbean T20 match for Guyana, made 37 not out off 32 balls including a massive six over long-off to end the match. He added a match-winning stand of 47 with skipper Chris Barnwell to pull Guyana out of trouble.

After the match Johnson said: “It feels really great to win a match for Guyana and give us such a good start in the tournament. It is always good to get a chance to play for Guyana and as this was my first T20 match for country I felt really pleased that I could play so well and do the job. I was out of the team for some time and I was really happy with the faith the selectors and the coaching staff put in me.”

He added: “Everyone is aware that we faced some challenges before we came to the tournament, but as a team, we are focussed on the job of playing cricket for Guyana and winning this tournament for the people of Guyana.”

Darren Sammy in action.

Sammy topscored with 41 not out, took a vital wicket and held a brilliant catch in the deep in the final over. Windwards batted first and made 129-4 off 20 overs. T&T were then limited to 118-9 off 20 overs as spinners Garey Mathurin and Shane Shillingford took five of the nine wickets.

“When we went to bat we were looking for 150 at the start but during the innings we realised the ball was not coming onto the bat and we felt it was a ‘130 pitch’. We aimed to get to that target and knew we could make life difficult for Trinidad from that point. The entire team did well and we are happy to start with a win,” Sammy said.

“I was especially pleased with the way our spinners bowled. Garey gave us an early wicket and maintained the pressure throughout the innings. Shane was excellent on his comeback to T20 cricket and they showed the benefits and experience of having played at the international level.”

The Caribbean T20 continues on Tuesday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground with Group B matches. Sussex face the Netherlands at 4 pm (3 pm Jamaica Time) while Jamaica take on Combined Campuses & Colleges at 8 pm (7 pm Jamaica Time).