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BARBADOS TOPS

...beat Leewards by 4 wickets to book semi-final berth

By Garth Wattley garth.wattley@trinidadexpress.com

As expected, Barbados sealed the top spot in Zone B of the NAGICO Super50 series at the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday. But in the end they had to struggle more than expected before securing a four-wicket win that had seemed so predictable after the Leewards had been dismissed for 103.
A manful effort by leg-spinner Anthony Martin and the other bowlers could not prevent another disappointing result for the Leewards.
Martin (10-5-8-2) removed Rashidi Boucher and Jonathan Carter on a turning pitch to bring some tension to an otherwise straightforward afternoon for the Bajans.
However, from a somewhat shaky 74 for four, and then 98 for six when Carlos Brathwaite was bowled by Kelbert Walters, Barbados got over the line. Kraigg Brathwaite (29, 98 balls), badly missed by Hayden Walsh on 18, and Ashley Nurse (two not out) completed the task which had seemed straightforward after the Leewards won the toss, decided to bat and then were bundled out.
A Man-of-the-Match six-wicket haul by off-spinner Nurse (10-2-29-6) ensured that the Barbadians finished top of the group, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, and will now face Zone A runners-up Guyana on Thursday in the second semi-final. T&T will tackle Jamaica in the first semi tomorrow.
Having failed to post competitive totals in their previous two matches, the Leewards threatened respectability for about 22 overs yesterday. Up to that time, skipper and top scorer Kieran Powell (34, three fours) and opening partner Montcin Hodge had posted their team’s best stand of the tournament, 46 before Hodge (14, 51 balls) gave a catch to short extra-cover off Dwayne Smith.
It was a slow stand, but steady. But the Leewards could not build on it, because from his second over of the match, Nurse, belatedly introduced by captain Kevin Stoute as the sixth change, ran through the rest of the batting in tandem with spin partner Sulieman Benn (8.5-2-15-2).
The Leewards’ final total, meagre as it was, could have been much less had the spinners been introduced earlier. Given little to hit by Nurse and Benn, who profited from bowling wicket to wicket, the Leewards batsmen, already lacking confidence, presented themselves as lambs to the Bajan slaughter.
There was a steady, sad procession after Powell was trapped lbw by Nurse with the total on 59, ending a vigil that lasted 56 balls. Sylvester Joseph left on the same score, beaten by a direct throw from Jason Holder. The departure of the Leewards veteran was another dagger blow to his side’s hopes of getting a fighting total, and it was another drain on confidence.
The batsmen seemed to walk to the crease with past failures sitting firmly on their shoulders. They were just unable to take positive action. Only seven boundaries were hit off the 39 overs and five balls the Leewards lasted at the crease. Benn and Nurse were not challenged, so the wickets just kept falling.
At 74, left-hander Mali Richards chased a ball well wide of off-stump, spinning further away and snicked a catch to wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich. At 95, Jahmar Hamilton was the fifth to fall, another Nurse lbw victim; and by 100, the slide was fully under way. Hayden Walsh, Devon Thomas and Justin Athanaze all fell on that score, Athanaze becoming Nurse’s fifth wicket, bowled by an off-break that found the acre of space between his swinging bat and pads.
Nurse got his sixth when Walters popped a catch to mid-on. Next over, Benn wrapped things up with an lbw verdict against Lionel Baker.
The booking with Guyana was sealed too. Just about.
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