Guyana Jaguars defeated the Jamaica Scorpions by one wicket with one ball remaining in a dramatic and entertaining semifinal of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional Super50 Cup at Kensington Oval last night.
The match, the first semi-final of the tournament was full of twists and turns, and for several overs Kensington Oval was turned into a battlefield as the gripping contest between the Jaguars and Scorpions unfolded before a modest crowd.
The principal warrior in the contest was Man of the Match and captain of the Jaguars Leon Johnson who scored 101, while all-rounder Raymon Reifer supported his captain with a solid 68. Johnson, Reifer and the rest of the Jaguars’ batsmen were made to fight hard for every run by fast bowler Jerome Taylor and left-arm spinner and captain Nikita Miller.
Set 273 for victory, the Jaguars got off to a terrible start when opener Trevon Griffith was caught at the wicket by Chadwick Walton for eight off the third ball of the first over from fast bowler Gordon Bryan.
Sherfane Rutherford who opened the innings with Griffith decided that attack was the best form of defence and lashed seamer Derval Green for 18 runs. Rutherford belted the usually metronomic Green for three fours and a six as the Jaguars rushed to 27 in two overs.
As a result of the hammering Green received from Rutherford, skipper Miller pulled him out of the firing line and replaced him with Taylor.
The veteran fast bowler struck with the second ball of his first over. He forced Rutherford to drive at a ball outside the off stump and was caught at first slip by Brandon King for 22, at that stage the Jaguars were 42 for two in the sixth over.
Johnson was joined by Christopher Barnwell and they proceeded to bat with a lot more caution than the two previous batsmen.
Barnwell received a blow to his head when Johnson played a meaty straight drive down the wicket, he fell to the ground but got up a couple of minutes later and continued his innings. The score was 70 when Miller bowled a ball that bounced awkwardly and Barnwell was caught at slip for 12.
Barnwell was dismissed in the 12th over and was replaced by Reifer. He joined Johnson in an entertaining partnership of 130 for the fourth wicket. Their partnership lasted for 27 overs. While Johnson and Reifer were at the crease, there was a school of thought that as long as they stayed together, the Jaguars would win the match on a canter.
An opposing view was that if Johnson and Reifer did not accelerate the scoring rate life could be difficult for the Jaguars if either of them got out. At the end of the 25th over the Jaguars had 103 on the board. Johnson’s fifty came off 74 balls and included six fours.
His century, his first in a List A match, came from 134 balls and contained 11 fours. But shortly after reaching triple figures, he cut at a ball from Miller and was caught by wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton. He had batted for 164 minutes and struck 11 fours.
He departed with the score on 200 in the 40th over. By then the Jaguars needed 73 runs to win the match from 10 overs and seemed to be still in driver’s seat. But Miller and Taylor bowling in tandem were keeping the pressure on them.
Anthony Bramble (13) added 24 runs with Reifer before being caught at deep cover by Nkrumah Bonner. The score slipped to 232 for the loss of six wickets after Romario Shepherd’s mistimed pull was caught at short extra cover by Christopher Lamont off Taylor for three. At 232 for 6 in 44.1 overs the Jaguars were in danger of losing the match.
It was left to Reifer to guide the Jaguars to victory after the loss of Johnson’s wicket. His half-century came from 63 balls and included two fours and a six. He was eventually run out attempting a second run in the 41st over for 68.
Most of the fans watching the match were Guyanese and the atmosphere at Kensington Oval became tense with the dismissal of Reifer, he departed in the 45th over with the Jaguars still needing 31 runs to win with just 18 balls remaining.
Veerasammy Permaul batting at number 9 came to the crease with a determined look on his face to join Recardo Adams. They added 22 vital runs for the eighth wicket that tilted the game into the favour of the Jaguars. Adams made a quick-fire 14 from 11 balls that included a massive six off fast bowler Gordon Bryan.
The Jaguars were inching towards victory when Adams was run out at 263 for 8 in the 49th over. Guyana then lost Clinton Pestano caught at long-on by Jermaine Blackwood off Bryan for one with the score at 264-9 in the fiftieth over.
Nine runs were required from five balls when a cool Permaul stuck Bryan for six to reduce the target to three runs from four balls. The victory was achieved when Permaul slashed Bryan through the offside for a boundary to give the Jaguars the victory. Permaul ended on 22 not out. Taylor was the most successful bowler for the Scorpions with 3 wickets for 44 runs from ten overs. Miller bowled ten tight overs for 36 runs and took two wickets.
Earlier, the Scorpions scored a challenging 272 for eight off 50 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat. Nkrumah Bonner scored 76 off 64 balls that included five fours and a six, while opener John Campbell contributed 56 from 59 balls with six fours and one six. Fast bowler Pestano took there wickets for 56 runs from his allotted ten overs.