From Kerk Higgins in Port-of-Spain
Trinidad & Tobago – Sunday, January 18, 2016: The ICC America’s played their last game in the 2016 NAGICO Super50 Series toady against the Jamaica Scorpions at the National Cricket Centre in Couva, and they couldn’t hold on to win a game that they were in control of. The Americas made three changes from the game they lost by 9 wickets against Trinidad and Tobago’s Red Force on Friday, they brought in Gunasekera, Shahid and Ali Khan for Dhaliwal, Allen and Gordon.
Once again the Americas won the toss and batted. Gunasekera and Taylor started for the fourth time this tournament and build a 28 run partnership, before Taylor was dismissed the same way he did in the previous game, after being beaten by three consecutive deliveries outside, he got impatient and flashed at the next delivery and was caught at the wicket. Dodson came in at number 3, the third different position he has batted in as many games, with the partnership worth 23, Dodson (6) played across the line to a delivery from McCarthy and was out LBW.
Nitish Kumar joined Gunasekera and the two Canadians handled the Jamaican bowling very well, they played some beautiful shots to all parts of the ground. Gunasekera took a liking to the Jamaican bowlers especially the left-arm pace of Sheldon Cottrell, while Gunasekera as his name suggest was gunning it and Kumar was playing a very good supporting role. With 150 on the board and the partnership worth 99 runs, Kumar (43) pushed a delivery from Damion Jacobs back to the bowler for an easy return catch.
By this time Gunasekera had passed his half-century and was aggressively gunning for what would be the first century by an Americas batsman in this tournament. Unfortunately for him, with 13 more runs to such a milestone, he was given out LBW to a delivery that in my opinion was missing leg stump, but as we all know my opinion is not the one that counts.
With five overs to go, the Americas were six short of 200 and hoping to get at least another 40 runs. With wickets in hand, the batsmen came in and approached their target very aggressively. Hamza Tariq and Srimantha Wijeratne came together with the score on 197/5 and produced a 28 runs partnership off only 11 balls, then Tariq and Hammad Shahid contributed 25 off 12 balls. At the end of their 50 overs, the Americas scored their tournament best 253/8. Gunasekera returned to the side and led the batting with a brilliant inning; he looked very positive and responded well to the chattering by the Jamaican bowlers, finishing on 87, he was well supported by Wijeratne (45), Kumar (43) and 35 from Tariq. The Scorpions bowling was led by Cottrell (3/57) and Marquino Bindley (2/69).
Posting a very competitive total, the Americas were very confident of their chance of winning their first game of this year’s tournament. To boost their chances even more, they struck immediately when Hammad Shahid had Jermaine Harrison caught by Steven Taylor with the score on 9. Trevon Griffiths came in to join his captain John Campbell, and the pair was going along well until Muhammad Khan got Griffiths LBW. With the game still evenly balanced, Andre McCarthy and his captain continued to tick the scoreboard along by hitting at least one boundary per over. After batting together for 55 runs, McCarthy lost his wicket via a catch to the wicketkeeper off Shahid.
At 78/3, in came the West Indian Test batsman Jermaine Blackwood, and with Campbell batted sensibly and ran well between the wickets. Campbell was playing some lovely shots as he brought up his half century and continued to play well until he edged a delivery from Nitish Kumar to wicketkeeper Hamza Tariq and was gone for a team high 82. Once the Americas got rid of the Jamaican Skipper, they became very vocal and you could see that they sensed a chance of winning the match.
Then came the destruction that we West Indians have been familiar with over the past few years, the Jamaicans would lose their next five wickets for only 56 runs to give the Americas a sight of victory. The slide began when Blackwood played a ridiculous shot to a delivery from Kumar and was out caught by Alex Amsterdam running around to his right and taking a well-judged catch. At this point, the Americas and their few supporters were hearing the fat lady warming up. But that was all she did, warmed up, as the last pair of Aldaine Thomas and Marquino Mindley had other plans.
The pair got together with the score on 218/9 and Jamaica still needing 36 for victory the two batsmen took no chances; they just played with straight bats and dispatched the bad deliveries, which was too much by the Americas. After batting for little less than 10 overs, the pair brought their team to victory when Mindley cut a delivery from Shahid to the point boundary. Apart from John Campbell (82), four other Scorpions batsmen got starts and never pushed on. For the Americas, Kumar got 3/50 and there were two apiece for Shahid and Khan.
The Americas batting improved a great deal today, as they scored their highest total of the tournament. As I said in my last piece, they needed to bat in partnerships and today had their largest partnership (99) of the series when Gunasekera and Kumar batted, and a few more brief but meaningful partnerships. Again today they got a good start in the field but couldn’t complete the job as the bowlers bowled too many bad balls in the middle overs. With all that being said, I think the ICC Americas played a very good game, ending the tournament on a good note. It is a pity that they couldn’t have played such a game earlier in the series.
Well that’s it for the ICC Americas in this year’s tournament. The ICC Americas players will undoubtedly be back on their jobs for the winter, by this Tuesday.