Guyana Settle for Draw
Guyana will play Jamaica in the second Busta Cup cricket semi-final from February 18-21 after taking four points from their drawn final-round encounter against the Windward Islands at the Arnos Vale ground yesterday.
Set 206 to win from 51 overs plus the mandatory 15 in the final hour after the home team declared at lunch on 190-7, Guyana recovered from 9-2 to end the day on 120-3 when the umpires called off play at 5 pm with 10 overs remaining. Guyana, who ended the preliminary rounds on 40 points, did not attempt the run chase after Andrew Gonsalves (3) and Keith Semple (3) were dismissed in quick succession.
Left hander Azeemul Haniff and 19-year-old Ramnaresh Sarwan then put together 65 runs in a solid third wicket stand to repair the damage and deny the Windwards an improbable victory before Haniff departed just after tea for 44. Haniff followed up his first innings undefeated 84 by batting for 156 minutes, facing 115 balls and hitting three fours to claim the Man-of-the-Match award.
Sarwan was unbeaten on exactly 50 from 205 minutes, 149 balls with one four while with him was his skipper Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 19 not out.
Leg spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo took 2-72 to take his wicket tally this year to 27, the most in the preliminary rounds and got good support from pacer Kevin Darlington (3-37) as the two bowled in tandem for the entire first session before the declaration came.
Scores: Windward Islands 187 & 190-7 declared - Guyana 172 & 120-3.
Earlier, early morning rain caused a 30-minute delay as the Windward resumed on 142-3 with Junior Murray on 50 and Roy Marshall on 45. They lost Murray at 133 against a Guyana attack missing strike bowler Colin Stuart whose left forearm was fractured while batting against Cameron Cuffy on Sunday.
The West Indies `A' pacer who picked up the first two wickets on Sunday afternoon to finish with 2-28, did not realise that his arm was fractured in two places until yesterday morning. The arm was put in a cast yesterday and he will be out of action for at least three weeks.
Murray's 12th regional half-century ended when he was lbw to Kevin Darlington as the Guyanese restricted the scoring on a slow outfield in hazy sunshine. Murray batted for 209 minutes, faced 156 balls and hit a solitary four in his 56 and along with Marshall added 118 in 145 minutes for the fourth wicket.
Nagamootoo struck by removing Marshall and Danny Harris (6) in the space of six runs to leave the Windwards, hunting quick runs on 179-6. Marshall, who batted for 189 minutes, faced 181 balls and hit a six and two fours in his 68, lofted the leg-spinner high to substitute Zaheer Haniff at long-on while Harris' miserable run this season continued when he was neatly stumped by Vishal Nagamootoo.
Raul Lewis (2) then hit Darlington to long-on at 181-7 before Nixon McLean (3) dropped by Vishal Nagamootoo off his brother just before the break and Dennison Thomas (4) saw their team to lunch at 190-7, when the Windwards declared.
Guyana began their second innings before a sprinkling of spectators and were in early trouble on a good track for batting with some bounce. Gonsalves was run out for the second time in his debut game when he attempted a risky third run and failed to beat the throw from deep mid wicket with the score on five while Semple was soon LBW to the hostile McLean.
Haniff (39) and Sarwan (18) repaired the damage by batting to tea, which was taken at 3:10pm.
McLean quickly had Haniff caught low down by wicketkeeper Murray after tea for 44 with the score on 74 to end the 65-run partnership. But Chanderpaul and his GCC teammate Sarwan ensured there were no anxious moments for Guyana by remaining unbeaten by the close. The game was called off when Sarwan got to his sixth 50 at this level and third for this season while McLean was the most successful of the bowlers with 2-23.
The Guyana team is expected home this morning and skipper Chanderpaul said King was rested only for this game. The West Indies player said "Everything was looking good" for the next match in Jamaica.
Coach Clyde Butts told Stabroek Sport after the game that he was happy to be in the semi-finals. He added that even though the team had not returned home since departing Guyana on January 5, it did not really matter if Guyana played in the first semi or the second one.
The former best off-spinner said that apart from Haniff, who played well in both innings, and Stuart who made his highest first class score, he was disappointed with the batting in the first innings.
"I am happy with the work of the bowlers throughout the competition, but we need to work on the batting. The batsmen are getting starts but not carrying on while the fielding at times could have been better," Butts said.
Butts, the region's leading first class wicket-taker disclosed that King (thigh injury) and Travis Dowlin (hamstring injury) are back to full fitness and that his team was confident of doing well in the semi-final. Butts added that Stuart's unavailability due to his fractured arm is a big blow to the team since he bowled with genuine pace and batted well at crucial times.
While the team will have an extra week's rest because Barbados and the Leewards will contest the first semi-final in Barbados from Friday to Monday, Butts is hoping that the weather in Guyana is conducive to proper practice before the side departs for Jamaica. Butts, also a national selector, declined to comment on a replacement for Stuart.