Guyana march into semi-finals
Guyana marched into the semi-finals of the Stanford 20/20 tournament with a hard fought 10-run quarter-final victory over Antigua and Barbuda at the Stanford Cricket Ground on Sunday night.
Guyana will now play Jamaica in next Saturday's semi-final, a day after Trinidad & Tobago face Barbados.
Inserted, the Guyanese, behind thousands of cheering fans, recovered from a poor batting display to give their supporters something to smile on their way back home.
Their openers - Sewnarine Chattergoon and Travis Dowlin, gave them a fairly good start with a stand of 42 runs in six overs. However, skipper Sylvester Joseph produced a very good delivery, which pitched and spun across the left-handed Chattergoon, who tried to take on the bowler, but made no contact and was stumped by Juari Edwards.
It was then Dowlin and Shivnarine Chanderpaul took centre stage and they maintained a steady run-rate with some sensibly batting, backed up by a few beautiful strokes on both sides of the wicket.
The left and right handed combination strengthened Guyana's position, but although they did not decimate the bowling like other teams did to date, both scored freely in their 56-run second wicket stand, which turned out to be the match-winner.
Pacer Chad Hampson, who returned at the northern end, bagged a brace of wickets in his first over - bowled Chanderpaul for 20 and had Sarwan caught and bowled without scoring at 99 for 3.
Hampson, two overs later, picked up the wicket of Dowlin, who tried to clear long-off found Orlando Peters, who took a brilliant catch over his head, a couple inches from the ropes.
In what turned out to be a batting collapse, Christopher Barnwell, who was striking the ball without mercy, watched as Derwin Christian (9) and Esuan Crandon (0) fell 128 for 6.
Barnwell provided the acceleration towards the end with his 26 off 16 balls, but his effort to get them to 150 failed when he hit Justin Athanaze to Wilden Cornwall, who was stationed at the long-on boundary. Royston Crandon (6) and Mahendra Nagamootoo (0) were both run out in the final over.
Needed to score 7.35 runs an over and with almost two-third of the over 8,000 spectators cheering against them, it was always going to be an uphill task for the Sylvester Joseph-led inexperienced team.
And it was, as Guyana paced by good opening spells from Esuan Crandon and spinner Lennox Cush, Antigua and Barbuda Pro Team was off to a nightmare start. Larry Joseph (5), who looked good for his first three deliveries, flashed wild outside his off stumps and got an outside edge straight to the wicket keeper.
The task became more difficult with a brace of wickets from Lennox Cush in the sixth over. He removed Richards, who cut straight to backward of point for Esuan Crandon to take an easy catch and two deliveries later, Wilden Cornwall, one of the most senior batsmen, edged to wicketkeeper Derwin Christian at 25 for 3.
Teenage batsman Orlando Peters was joined by his captain Sylvester Joseph and the two put on 41 for the third wicket, but the former, shortly after he struck Royston Crandon for three fours in one over, came forward and swept the same bowler to Chanderpaul at short fine leg.
And the very next ball, Justin Athanaze advanced down the pitch, but in his attempt to hit over mid-on, got a leading edge and Chattergoon took an easy catch at extra cover.
Though Joseph survived the hat trick ball, Antigua and Barbuda slipped in further trouble when Mali Richards, son of Sir Viv Richards, was bowled by Crandon, who also removed Carl Simon for nine at 98 for 8.
With 38 runs to get in the last two overs, Hampson, who faced 11 balls for seven runs, made things more difficult for his team. Though it came down to 29 runs to get in the final over, Joseph threatened Guyana with two huge sixes and a four off Neil McGarrell, who he had earlier hit out of the attack.
Joseph's brilliant innings, 62 not out, which included five sixes, one which cleared the southern stand for Play-of-the-Day, and two fours off 37 deliveries, was a little too late. He was also named Man-of-the-Match and collected US$35,000 in total.