Merry Boys held off a gutsy challenge from hosts UWI to record a 15-run win and progress to the semi-final round of the UWI-UNICOM National T20 Tournament.
In their first round duel on Saturday evening at the Sir Frank Worrell Ground, UWI, St Augustine campus, Merry Boys posted a massive score of 209 runs for three wickets. UWI, however, were undaunted and made a commendable effort at the chase, falling short at 195 for four when overs ran out.
Merry Boys, the 2017 Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) T20 kings, were boosted by half-centuries from openers Rishaad Harris and Mario Belcon who showed no mercy for the UWI bowlers.
Harris, the Man of the Match, lashed 52 off 39 balls with three fours and two sixes, while Mario Belcon belted 50 off 31 deliveries with six fours and two sixes.
Merry Boys also had solid contributions from Leonardo Julien, unbeaten on 45 off 35 balls (four fours, two sixes), and Ranga Latchana, 34 off 20 balls with one four and three sixes, to get them past the 200 mark.
Ex-national and West Indies youth team leg-spinning all-rounder Jyd Goolie was the best bowler for UWI with one for 24 from four overs. Rachad Forde was expensive with one wicket for 44 runs from his four.
In their run chase, UWI got off to a blazing start from opener and birthday boy Daniel Williams, who struck 69 from 44 balls (six fours and four sixes), while Clifton Halls was unbeaten on 39 (three fours, two sixes).
Also among the runs were Jesse Bootan (38 off 19 balls), Goolie (23 off 24 balls) and Rachad Forde (22 not out). Despite a brilliant effort, UWI were always struggling with the run rate and could not keep up.
Ex-national left-arm spinner Ricky Jaipaul took one wicket, while the pace trio of Keon Isaac, former Red Force captain Marlon Richards and Uthman Muhammad also had one apiece.
Merry Boys will face the winners of today’s third preliminary round match between PowerGen and Munroe Road in Friday’s second semi-final.
Reigning champs Cane Farm will be in action in the first semi-final on Thursday, against the winners of tomorrow’s last preliminary round game between Comets and Central Sports.
The final is scheduled to take place on Saturday.
MERRY BOYS 209/3 (20 Overs) - Rishard Harris 52, Mario Belcon 50, Leonardo Julien 45 not out, Ranga Latchana 34; Jyd Goolie 1/24, Rachad Forde 1/44 vs UWI 195/4 (20 Overs) - Daniel Williams 69, Clifton Halls 39 not out, Jesse Bootan 38, Rachad Forde 22; Keon Isaac 1/33, Marlon Richards 1/40, Uthman Uthy Muhammad 1/47.