Jamaica into final with narrow victory

Bridgetown, Barbados, (CMC) – Jamaica withstood an inspired spell from medium pacer Kevin Stoute to clinch a one-wicket victory over Barbados on Tuesday and advance to the Final of the Regional Four-Day Tournament.

Stoute captured 5-29 from 16 overs and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn ended with 3-78 from 26 overs, as the Jamaicans successfully chased 167 for victory on the final day of the semi-final at Kensington Oval.

Jermaine Blackwood hit four boundaries in the top score of 64 from 98 balls in two hours and Andre McCarthy made 43, but no other batsman reached 20, as the visitors almost blew their chance to win.

Nikita Miller formalised the result about 15 minutes past the scheduled lunch interval, when he steered a delivery from Benn into square cover for a single to allow Jamaica to breathe a huge sigh of relief – but left the home team, the newly-crowned regional champions – crestfallen.

The Jamaicans will now make the short hop to St. Lucia, where they will face Windward Islands in the Final, starting on Saturday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.

Jamaica started the day needing 61 more runs to win with eight wickets standing – but their approach was in stark contrast to the previous evening when they played aggressively to reach 106 for two.

Andre McCarthy, whose positive stroke-play helped to put the Jamaicans within sight of victory on Monday, was caught at extra cover off Benn from a leading edge, seven runs short of his half century.

He struck four boundaries from 43 balls in just over an hour and put on 91 with Blackwood for the third wicket.

It was at this stage that Stoute made his intervention into the match, bowling unchanged from the start until the finish to send shivers down the spine of Jamaica.

He had Blackwood caught behind off Stoute in his fourth over before Carlton Baugh Jr was run out for the second time in the match for one, attempting a single.

Stoute then had Jamaica captain Tamar Lambert, a century-maker in the first innings, caught at slip for 10 in his ninth over, Sheldon Cottrell, strangely promoted to eight, bowled for six in his following over and Damion Jacobs caught at gully for a duck two balls later, leaving Jamaica 139 for eight.

Jerome Taylor hit a four and a six in 12 to ease the tension, but he was caught at slip off Stoute for a duck with 12 required for victory.

Stoute and Benn bowled steadily to make the last wicket pair of Miller and Dave Bernard Jr work for the remaining runs – but the Jamaican pair inched them over the finish line.

Summarized Scores:

Barbados 1st Innings: 245 All Out (77.3 Overs). Shane Dowrich+ 69, Ashley Nurse 45, Omar Phillips 33, Shai Hope 28; Damion Jacobs 21-8-58-3, Sheldon Cottrell 8.3-1-28-3, Dave Bernard 9-2-32-2, Nikita Miller 27-6-56-0.

Jamaica 1st Innings: 302 All Out (93 Overs). Tamar Lambert* 121, Dave Bernard Jr 42, Jermaine Blackwood 37, John Campbell 31; Sulieman Benn 35-13-102-5, Ashley Nurse 16-4-47-2, Fidel Edwards 12-0-58-2, Carlos Brathwaite 14-4-31-0.

Barbados 2nd Innings: 223 All Out (69.3 Overs). Jonathan Carter 111*, Kraigg Brathwaite* 22, Shai Hope 22, Shane Dowrich+ 20; Jerome Taylor 14.3-1-37-3, Nikita Miller 17-0-52-3, Sheldon Cottrell 12-0-31-2, Damion Jacobs 13-1-50-2.

Jamaica 2nd Innings: 167/9 (57 Overs). Jermaine Blackwood 64, Andre McCarthy 43, Jerome Taylor 12, Dave Bernard Jr 12*; Kevin Stoute 16-3-29-5, Sulieman Benn 26-4-78-3, Kraigg Brathwaite 1-0-1-0, Carlos Brathwaite 2-0-3-0.

Jamaica won by 1 wicket

No stopping Maxwell and Kings XI

The Report by Siddarth Ravindran

Last season, Glenn Maxwell was the punchline to tons of millionaire jokes. He warmed the Mumbai Indians bench for much of the campaign, and was a peripheral figure in the three matches he did play. This time, the season is only a week old, and he’s not just played three matches, he’s been the Man of the Match in each.

The people laughing now will be Kings XI Punjab’s owners who will view the million dollars they sunk on Maxwell as a bargain given the three impressive wins he has orchestrated at the start of the season. If the previous two victories had been thrilling encounters in which Kings XI hunted down massive scores, this was a forgettably one-sided affair after Maxwell put on a show again to lead the side to 193. Especially after L Balaji removed David Warner and Aaron Finch in the fifth over.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have a dangerous top order – any of Shikhar Dhawan, Warner or Finch can single-handedly transform a match – but they also have a dangerously unbalanced batting line-up. After the big three, the batting is alarmingly thin – KL Rahul is still finding his way at this level, Venugopal Rao isn’t someone teams are going to worry about too much, Irfan Pathan is a spot too high at No. 6 and Darren Sammy is great at providing the finishing touches but less proficient at building the base.

Once Mitchell Johnson accounted for Dhawan and Balaji made his double breakthrough, it was a hour-long dirge for Sunrisers’ fans before it ended in a crushing 72-run defeat, leaving them with plenty of questions over the composition of the team.

Warner won’t just be disappointed with his low score, but also with his botched catch that reprieved Maxwell on 11. With Wriddhiman Saha slotted for No. 6, Kings XI don’t have too much depth in their batting, something Sunrisers could have capitalized on had Warner held on to a fairly straightforward chance at long-off in the 10th over.

Instead, the chance went down and Maxwell went on to pillage 95 off 43, including nine sixes. The highlight of the onslaught was the 13th over when Maxwell effortlessly cleared midwicket off the first three deliveries before launching one towards the sightscreen to take 25 runs off Amit Mishra. This innings had fewer of the switch-hits and reverse-sweeps and was more about clean hitting down the ground and, especially, over midwicket.

It was the perfect setting for Maxwell as the openers Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag had provided a fast start from which he could build. He had plenty of luck as well – besides the Warner reprieve, he was caught off a no-ball, a skier was in the air for ages but evaded everyone when it landed at midwicket. Sunrisers also didn’t bring on their main weapon, Dale Steyn, when Maxwell was in the midst of his carnage. Till he was 72 off 29, Maxwell faced neither Steyn nor Bhuvneshwar Kumar – both of whom combined to limit the damage at the end of the innings.

Still, though Kings XI didn’t reach the 200 that they looked nailed on for, they reached a total which proved far too much for Sunrisers.

Summarized scores: Kings XI Punjab 193 for 6 (Maxwell 95, Bhuvneshwar 3-19) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 121 (Balaji 4-13) by 72 runs

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