MERRY BOYS could be poised to remind the local cricketing fraternity of their might following a nervy seven-run victory over Marchin Patriots to move into the 2020 UWI-Unicom Twenty20 semi-finals against Powergen on Saturday. Merry Boys were demoted from the top flight of national cricket last season and with the passing of club stalwart Patrick Rampersad, many wondered if the team would be able to once more make an impact on the domestic scene. That was answered at the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground, at UWI SPEC in St Augustine, on Wednesday night, as Mario Belcon’s men entered into contention for the crown they won in 2014.
Electing to bat, Merry Boys made 145 for seven as ex-national player Aneil Kanhai turned back the clock to make a brilliant 40 off 28. The Diego Martin-based team were given a scare, though, with skipper Adrian Ali making 40 himself but Patriots could only muster 138 for nine in a game that went down to the wire with ten needed from the final over. Joshua Findlay took man-of-the-match honours with three for 26 and an impressive display in the field.
Patriots looked like causing an upset as Belcon, one of the country’s biggest hitters, was bowled by Teshawn Castro for six after a maximum. Keon Isaac then fell LBW to Totaram Rampersad for nine to leave Merry Boys hobbling at 16 for two after two. But Iqwe Craig and Reinaldo Sammy would repair the innings. Craig made 29 off 27 (four fours) while Sammy garnered 22 off 23 with three fours. The run rate limped along, however, and with the score on 66, Kern Matheson got the breakthrough as Sammy was stumped by ‘keeper Daniel Williams.
Craig followed ten runs later, playing Rampersad into Jyd Goolie’s hands before Franklyn Rouse was carelessly stumped off Karrel Bissoon for eight with the score at 80 in the 13th. Kanhai would be joined by Miguel Mahabir and the fireworks began en route to a 40-run sixth-wicket stand. The former clattered six boundaries before standing up on Mahabir and getting him run out for 12 by Chris Pattia. Kanhai was the last to fall, bowled by Castro, leaving Joshua Stewart unbeaten on five and Jasbour Findlay not out on four. Rampersad ended on two for 21 while Castro left national selectors a note with two for 25.
It was a topsy turvy affair when Patriots batted with the pendulum swinging both directions on a few occasions. Stewart removed openers Pattia (one) and Castro (nine), while Findlay uprooted Williams’ stumps for eight to leave the Central outfit at 30 for three. Jyd Goolie cracked 18 with three fours only to be castled by Rouse at 48. Ali would be joined by Matheson and they took the score to 103 in the 15th to resuscitate the chase. Matheson made 28 off 25 (three fours, one six) before he played Kanhai into Sean Khan’s hands.
The game was clearly going down to the end when Ali played a senseless pull, miscuing and getting caught and bowled by Sammy at 113. Four runs later, Findlay had Vishan Jagessar skying to Mahabir for one, although Kedell Glasgow would shake things up with 14 off 12, including a six. He lost Vickram Malloram after the latter cracked a maximum, with Findlay scalping the wicket and Craig taking the catch.
At 137, though, in the final over, Glasgow was run out making another careless effort at a second run to leave the game precariously perched. It was a breath of relief for pacer Stewart because, with the ball before, Glasgow was dropped. Luckily, Merry Boys wouldn’t pay for their errors because with nine off four needed Stewart would concede just one run off Bissoon along with three dots. The latter ended unbeaten on one with Rampersad also on one, unable to get anything off Stewart to force even a super over. Stewart ended on two for 15 to set up the clash against Powergen at the same venue from 6 pm.