Windward Islands stormed into the semi-finals of the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament, following a typically enterprising 65 from Johnson Charles that helped them knock two-time champions Guyana out with a five-wicket victory under the Duckworth/Lewis Method in the wee hours of yesterday.
Charles continued his rich vein of form in the tournament, smashing three fours and three sixes from 43 balls, as Windwards successfully chased a revised target of 119 from 16 overs in their rain-affected, final Group A match that started late on Thursday at Kensington Oval.
The St. Lucian opener put on 49 for the first wicket with Miles Bascombe and 36 for the third wicket with Devon Smith that propelled Windwards to their fourth straight victory in the tournament, placing them at the top of the Group A table with a maximum 16 points. The Guyanese finished third on eight points.
Smith drew on his wealth of experience to usher the Windwards over the finish line with 25 not out and Bascombe made 22.
West Indies leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo was the pick of the Guyana bowlers with three wickets for 15 runs from their allotted four overs and off-spinner Royston Crandon supported with two for 35 from three overs.
The Windwards face the runners-up from Group B which was to be determined yesterday evening in the first semi-final today at the same venue.
Windwards and West Indies captain Darren Sammy had captured three for 11 from four overs, earning the Man-of-the-Match award, and left-arm fast bowler Delorn Johnson took three for 40 from four overs, as Guyana, sent in to bat, reached 140 for eight from their allocation of 20 overs.
Guyana captain Christopher Barnwell hit the top score of 32 from 36 balls and Sewnarine Chattergoon made 27 from 22 deliveries.
When Windwards started their chase, the match was already running behind time, following the late finish of the previous match between Trinidad & Tobago and Canada, which was also affected by the weather, and two interruptions for rain totalling an hour during the Guyana innings.
Another stoppage for rain lasting about 15 minutes after the first over, meant the Windwards' target was revised under the D/L Method before Charles and Bascombe returned after the interruption to give the Windwards their now customary brisk start.
Charles pulled off-spinner Steven Jacobs over mid-wicket for his first six deep into the Greenidge & Haynes Stand on the western side of the ground in the third over, but Bascombe, on one, was fortunate in the same over, when the bowler dropped a stiff return chance.
Bascombe responded in the following over, paddling left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul to the fine leg boundary for his first four before Charles destroyed Jacobs' figures with a six over backward square leg and a back drive for four through cover in the next over.
The two Windwards openers got tied down once the field restrictions were relaxed after the first six overs and Bascombe sliced a big drive at a delivery from off-spinner Royston Crandon and was caught at short third man in the seventh over.
Andre Fletcher became Bishoo's first scalp, when he played defensively forward, edged and was caught behind for one, much to his chagrin, leaving Windwards 52 for two in the eighth over.
Smith came to the crease and continued to feed Charles the strike, and they put the Windwards back on track for victory.
Two fours a pull through mid-on and a back cut to square third man for Charles hurt Crandon again and inched the opener closer to his 50, which he reached from 34 balls with a leg-side deuce.
He struck another six off Guyana captain and fast-medium bowler Christopher Barnwell over mid-wicket and had the opposition bowling at his mercy, when he offered Bishoo a tame return catch in the 13th over, much to his consternation.
Windwards still needed 31 from 20 balls, and Smith and Sammy eased the pressure with a few lusty hits during the course of the next three overs.
Earlier, Guyana too, started rapidly with opener Trevon Griffith taking two sixes off the first over delivered by left-arm medium-fast bowler Kenroy Peters and Sewnarine Chattergoon clouting three overs off Johnson, who replaced him.
In between, Griffith was caught at deep mid-wicket off Johnson for 17 in the third over, and Guyana never really stabilised throughout their innings.
The weather did not help their momentum, stopping them on 38 for one in the third over and 129 for eight in the 19th over. There were fits and starts from the Guyanese batsmen, as the Windwards bowlers kept a lid on things until the last five overs, when they conceded 40 runs, but Sammy was able to claim three wickets in his final over the 16th of the innings.