“I wouldn’t say it was the perfect start, it was a good start.” The first match of the 2014 Limacol Caribbean Premier League went down to the last over, with Sunil Narine ending slight anxiety for the Guyana Amazon Warriors with a lofted boundary off Carlos Brathwaite to complete a two-wicket win.
That the game lasted until three balls to go would have pleased the Grenadians who turned out at the National Cricket Stadium on a day when the sun never shone to see the action. But Warriors captain Denesh Ramdin was not pleased that his side lost eight wickets in getting to their target of 137 after they had restricted Antigua Hawksbills to 136 for eight in their 20 overs.
“I’m disappointed that as captain, the way I got out. I should have carried right down to the end,” said Ramdin despite hitting a Man-of-the-Match 36-ball 51 (six fours, one six). Ramdin and Mohammad Hafeez had got their team’s run chase on track and virtually decided the match with a third wicket partnership of 59.
Ramdin also posted 33 for the fourth with Jimmy Neesham. But the captain was seventh out with 25 still needed, bowled by Carlos Brathwaite from a needless swipe. It took Narine with a calm, unbeaten 11 and Permaul (15) who was out to Sheldon Cottrell (4-0-24-3) with seven balls left to make victory certain.
Ramdin said himself and Hafeez should “take some knocks” for not seeing the innings through to the end. But he could find no fault with Narine, who himself could have been Man of the Match despite not taking a wicket. “From the position we were in, we were expecting them to get 170, 175, but the way that Sunil Narine and Veerasammy Permaul (4-0-24-1) pulled it back was very crucial,” Ramdin noted.
Narine’s intervation from the fifth over altered the course of the Hawksbills innings after Ramdin had won the toss and asked the opposition to bat under the cloudy skies. Initially, it seemed that Marlon Samuels’ side would get a big total after the new opening pair of Ben Dunk and Shacaya Thomas rattled up 40 runs off 32 balls.
It was nearly all a Dunk onslaught. Brought in only this week to replace Kieran Powell who withdrew for personal reasons, Dunk--player of the tournament in the Big Bash League in Australia earlier this year—showed why. Playing as if on home soil, the Australian found the boundary with great ease, from ball one of the series bowled by Sheldon Cottrelll. His knock of 38 off just 21 balls included five fours and two sixes that seized the early initiative for the Hawksbills. It prompted skipper Ramdin to use his ace Narine to try to slow the tempo. That he did, bowling a maiden to Thomas (20, 32 balls, two fours), fizzing the ball past tentative prods.
Narine was a mystery none of the Hawksbills could solve, and made up for not taking a wicket by allowing just three runs in his four overs. The Hawksbills could not take off against him and the innings lost momentum from his first over. Guyanese pacer Ronsford Beaton built on that Narine start in the next over by removing Dunk who miscued a drive and skied to Mohammad Hafeez in the mid-on region.
The pace dropped decidedly after that, despite Thomas and Danza Hyatt (36, 33 balls, three fours, one six) putting together 60 for the second wicket. But once Hyatt was run out in the 16th over, the runs dried up. Samuels’ dry run with the bat continued, as he too was run out for just four as the Hawksbills managed just 36 runs after the first two partnerships. Samuels reckoned his side was about 20 runs short yesterday. But that was in no small way due to the way Narine stood tall again.