From Kerk Higgins in Port-of-Spain
Trinidad & Tobago – Thursday January 7, 2016: The WICB began their 2016 cricket schedule with the opening round of the NAGICO Super50 series in Trinidad and Tobago (Zone A) and St. Kitts (Zone B). The morning game in Trinidad was played at the picturesque University of the West Indies ground and it featured one of the Caribbean’s powerhouse teams in the Barbados Pride against newcomers ICC Americas.
After winning the toss, the Bajan captain Kevin Stoute asked ICC Americas to take first knock on a wicket that had a bit of moisture that might help the fast bowlers. The Americas sent out Captain Ruvindu Gunasekara and Steven Taylor, who had played with some of the Pride players in last year’s CPL.
The Pride started their attack with the lively Tino Best, and as expected he was running in very hard at the batsmen. Justin Greaves shared the new ball with Best and struck immediately when he bowled Gunasekara with the score on only 8. In came the young talented Canadian batsman Nitish Kumar, who along with Taylor were going along well, picking up the singles and odd boundary.
In the eight over, Taylor got a delivery from Greaves that bounced more that he expected and he guided it to second slip where the huge hands of Sulieman Benn took a simple catch. It was now 42/2 when Srimantha Wijeyeratne joined his Canadian teammate and the pair added 20 runs, before Dwayne Smith had Wijeyeratne bowled off an under edge.
At this point, the Americas team was in a decent position with Kumar looking very comfortable against the Bajan boys, as he was joined by Alex Amsterdam. This was the partnership that had to stay at the crease if the Americas were to get a fighting total, but the Pride had other plans and it worked as Ashley Nurse had Kumar caught and bowled. The Pride was now very bubbly and confident as they were into the lower middle-order of the Americas batting lineup. The ICC Americas needed a pair to occupy the crease and frustrate their opponents. Amsterdam and Navneet Dhaliwal were going along fine, rotating the strike and playing every delivery on its merit, and Amsterdam was beginning to get a feel for the wicket as he looked a lot more positive and played some lovely shots through the off side, but unfortunately for him and his team, wickets continued to fall around him.
It was now 110/8 and looking like an easy day for the Bajans, but thanks to a ninth wicket partnership of 66 between Amsterdam and Hammad Shahid, the Americas ended on a fairly decent total of 183 off 43.1 overs. The inning by Alex Amsterdam was very pleasing to watch, as he demonstrated how to build an inning. He started very slowly but got aggressive when he needed to, he was eventually the last wicket to fall for the Americas, and finished on a well-played 73 (87b, 10×4, 1×6). He was supported by Kumar who made 25. The Pride bowling was led by the veteran Sulieman Benn (4/40), and supported by Ashley Nurse (3/23).
Looking to get 184 for victory, the Pride started with captain Stoute and hard-hitting Dwayne Smith, and it was Jeremy Gordon with ball in hand. Smith was first to go when he top-edged a short ball from Timroy Allen and was caught at mid-on. The Americas was very happy to see the back of Smith as they were aware of what he’s capable of doing to bowlers. The new batsman was Shamar Brooks, who along with his captain carried the total to 62 before Danial Ahmed had Stoute LBW for a well-played 40. Seven runs later, the Pride lost their third wicket when Allen struck again, bowling Shamar Brooks. The Americas would grab three more wickets and with the score at 125/6, the game was still in the balance, but thanks to an unbeaten partnership of 59 between Jonathan Carter and Justin Greaves, the Pride held on to win by 4 wickets, with 43 balls to spare.
The Pride was led by Carter who showed why he is an International player, as he looked very solid at the crease, and was very positive from the first ball he faced. Carter ended with 55 (84b, 2×4, 1×6) and was well-supported by his skipper Kevin Stoute (40). The ICC Americas bowling was led by Timil Patel (2/30) and Timroy Allen (2/36).
The Americas played a good game for a team that’s playing together for the first time, the batsmen just need to apply themselves and be a little more patient; and good things will come their way. The bowlers need to be more consistent with their line and length. I think they have the ability to win a few games if they make those few adjustments. The action continues on Saturday with the ICC Americas tackling the Jamaica Scorpions, and the Pride taking on the Trinidad & Tobago Red Force.