JASON Mohammed’s unbeaten stance of 101 proved too much for the chasing USA batsmen, at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, on Friday night, as the Red Force rallied to an important 43-run victory when action continued in a rain affected Colonial Medical Insurance Super 50 Cup.
Having won the toss and opting to bat first, the hosts were led by Mohammed’s mesmerising display to a competitive total of 244/4 after 30 overs due to incessant rainfall for over three hours.
In their turn at the crease, the Americans started slowly but began to gain momentum as their innings progressed. A half-century from opening batsman Xavier Marshall (53) partnered with Nisarg Patel (31 not out) spearheaded the charge but the visitors could only muster up a still credible 201/7 along the slick surface.
The Red Force have now won three of their four matches played while, USA are yet to get off the mark. However, credit must be given to the American squad who showed grit and had battled to the end in search of a much-needed victory.
Following the toss just after 1pm, both captains – Imran Khan (TT) and Saurabh Netravalkar (USA) – returned to the dressing room for over four hours courtesy heavy rainfall. At the resumption, openers Jeremy Solozano (12) and Tion Webster (23) started fairly well but were soon victims of Karima Gore’s left-arm orthodox. A quick cameo of 20 runs with three well-timed sixes off as many balls from Darren Bravo carried the national squad to a still questionable 66/3 after 12.3 overs. However, the timely inclusion of Shai Hope (47) and Mohammed steadied the Red Force innings with the latter smashing nine sixes and two fours in his centurion knock from just 62 balls.
After Hope was caught by Gore, off a Jasdeep Sing delivery, Odean Smith (31) entered the fray and maintained his composure to the end. Mohammed though, spared none, blasting 58 off the last five overs and launching the final ball over cover to seal a dominant centurion showing in front of the home crowd. Smith ably assisted his team-mate, communicating well with the right-handed batsman and chipping in with two sixes and three fours. Gore was the pick of the bowlers for USA bagging 2/21.
In reply, opening batsmen Marshall and Mrunal Patel (18) took some time to get going. Marshall though, soon took a liking for Jon-Russ Jagessar’s spin by cracking him for 15 in the fifth over. Tournament debutant, Anderson Phillip, opened TT’s account by scalping Patel in the very next over, followed by Jagessar’s quick dismissal of Steven Taylor (1) six balls later (51/2).
Aaron James’ introduction slowed the visitors’, grabbing just four runs off the next three overs, as Yannick Ottley and Smith sought to regain control. Khan opted to have a go at the opposition and was duly rewarded with James’ (16) wicket five balls in. Jagessar then had Marshall caught by Phillip in the following over (98/4).
Midway through, Elmore Hutchinson (23) and Ian Holland (18) staged a fight-back but ended up victims of Khan’s (3/38) wizardry. At 148/6, Nisarg Patel tried to bolster their score with some fine shots around the ground. However, it was not to be. Ottley tightened the screws bowling Gore (19 runs off 16 balls) while, Phillip continued to stifle the chase to the end.
After the victory, supporters were visibly relieved that USA did not cause a major upset. Cricket fan, Devon Cummings, breathed a sigh of relief stating, “It was coming (kinda) close to the end of the match. I’m happy for the Red Force win but USA played a good game also. It shows how cricket is growing immensely worldwide. Whoever thought TT would have been playing a cricket match against America?”
Tomorrow, Red Force continue its competitive campaign against Windward Islands at the same location, Guyana Jaguars play the West Indies Emerging Players, at Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair, while Barbados Pride lock horns with the Combined Campuses and Colleges, at Warner Park, Basseterre.
RED FORCE 244 for four off 30 overs (Jason Mohammed 101 not out, Kyle Hope 47, Odean Smith 31 not out; Karima Gore 2-21)
UNITED STATES 201 for seven off 30 overs (Xavier Marshall 53, Nisarg Patel 31 not out; Imran Khan 3-38) Red Force beat USA by 43 runs.