A dominant West Indies Emerging Players defied all odds to script a fairytale end to an astonishing campaign, when they crushed favourites Leeward Islands Hurricanes by a record 205 runs to lift the 2019 Super50 Cup on Sunday night.
In a one-sided final at Queen’s Park Oval, Emerging Players made a bold statement by piling up an imposing 293 for seven off 50 overs, with left-handed opener Leonardo Julien hitting a fluent 83 from 85 balls.
Faced with a record run chase to win their first title in nine years, Hurricanes folded meekly for 88 inside 27 overs as off-spinner Kevin Sinclair, with four for 20 and leg-spinning captain Yannic Cariah, three for eight, ripped through the batting.
They were fighting at 64 for three in the 18th over but suffered a dramatic collapse to lose their last seven wickets for just 24 runs.
Left-hander Amir Jangoo was the only batsman to reach 20 and was just one of three specialist batsmen to reach double figures, as the Hurricanes’ run chase never got going after Emerging Players restricted the scoring early on.
“First of all, thank God for smiling on us through this tournament,” said Cariah, adjudged Man-of-the-Match for a solid all-round performance which saw him also score 34.
“We had some tough times and we had some great times and you can see, at the end we came out on top.”
Still buoyant from their dramatic takedown of Barbados Pride in Thursday’s first semi-final, Emerging Players produced a strong start after being sent in, with Julien and Kimani Melius (28) posting 60 from 69 balls for the first wicket.
Julien, with just three runs from his previous three innings, finally found his touch to stroke 11 fours and two sixes while Melius belted a four and a pair of sixes in a 33-ball knock.
When Melius pulled a long hop from off-spinner Jacques Taylor to Kieran Powell at short mid-wicket in the 12th over, Cariah arrived to add a further 81 with Julien for the second wicket to keep the momentum going.
The partnership was threatening to give Emerging Players a stranglehold on the innings when Cariah hesitated over a quick single and was run out at the non-striker’s end in the 28th over.
His dismissal led to a slide, four wickets tumbling for 47 runs, as Hurricanes clawed their way back thanks to the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, seamer Sheno Berridge (2-59), who struck twice.
Julien was one of his victims in the 32nd over, fourth out driving a low catch to Devon Thomas at cover.
In need of a rebuild at 188 for five in the 36th over, Emerging Players were propelled by Kevin Sinclair who struck 28 from 33 balls in adding 30 for the sixth wicket with Roland Cato (30), and 32 for the seventh wicket with Dominic Drakes (38 not out).
Sinclair eventually holed out to long on in the 47th over off pacer Quinton Boatswain (2-59) but the left-handed Drakes, who blasted three fours and two sixes in a 25-ball cameo, gave the innings a thrilling end in a 43-run, unbroken eighth wicket stand with Keon Harding (13 not out).
Needing to score at nearly six runs an over, Hurricanes stumbled at the start when Montcin Hodge (1) edged a slash at a short, wide ball from speedster Harding in the third over and was caught by a leaping Joshua DaSilva behind with just 11 runs on the board.
And when Sinclair and Harding combined to dry up the scoring, Hurricanes found themselves dawdling on 14 for one after six overs and in need of a catalyst.
It never came. Powell edged a cut at Sinclair and was taken at the wicket for 13 in the eighth over and Thomas scooped an innocuous delivery from left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd to point in the 14th over, after adding 22 for the third wicket with Jangoo.
Keacy Carty (8) had put on a further 19 with Jangoo for the fourth wicket to push the score to 64 for three when Cariah cleaned up both in his first over – the 18th of the innings – first having Carty caught at cover and then bowling Jangoo through the gate.
Akeem Saunders (1) was brilliantly run out at the non-striker’s end by Nedd’s direct hit from backward point in the 20th over and off the very next ball, captain Jahmar Hamilton (6) skied Cariah to cover where Melius held a swirling catch, as Emerging Players closed in on victory.