There are still two days and four games to go, but for all meaningful purpose, the T20WCQ Americas Final in Bermuda is done and dusted, and in stunning fashion.
The two favourites coming into the tournament were a Canada side fresh from having almost its entire squad appearing in the GT20, and the ODI-status central contract holding United States.
However, while the Canadians have lived up to their billing, remaining unbeaten so far and securing qualification to the Global T20WCQ in the UAE in October, the US have faltered badly and having won just one of four games played are now eliminated.
The second qualification spot has been secured instead by Bermuda, who are also unbeaten and have beaten the US twice in 5 days. Coach Herbie Bascome’s team have ridden an emotional wave this week cheered on by passionate and noisy local support and have thoroughly earned their spot in Dubai.
The last two game days on Saturday and Sunday will be a joyous occasion for Canada and Bermuda, while for the United States this will be a tough fall to pick themselves up from.
Day 1 – Sunday August 18th
White Hill Field saw the first day’s action, with the morning games pitting Bermuda against the US. Both were hit by major injury news ahead of the game with the US’s tearaway quick Ali Khan ruled out with an ankle injury sustained in training and Bermuda’s captain Dion Stovell scratched from the tournament on medical grounds after failing to recover from a concussion picked up in the domestic Cup Match classic two weeks ago.
Bermuda got off to a bright start batting first with Okera Bascome hitting 12 off the first over, but Jessy Singh dismissed Kamau Leverock (main photo from WCL4 2016) and stand in captain Terryn Fray both for ducks off successive balls in the second. This brought Sussex all-rounder Delray Rawlins to the crease and Bermuda’s star man did not disappoint, scoring 63 off 53 balls which led his team to 141/7 off their 20 overs. Cameron Gannon had the best figures for the US with 2/21.
The US started slowly, pegged back by a miserly spell from George O’Brien (2/14) that dismissed both Xavier Marshall (4) and Steven Taylor (0). Fray ran out Monank Patel for 3 and the US were struggling at 39/3 off 7.4 overs. They recovered somewhat with knocks from Jaskaran Malhotra (33) and Aaron Jones (40), but when Jones fell to a stunning leaping catch by Rawlins on the boundary, they were 100/5 needing 42 off the last 4 overs. This was reduced to 18 off 2 before some excellent death bowling from both man-of-the match Rawlins and Leverock meant the US only scored 11 off the last two overs and saw Bermuda home by six runs for an upset win.
The second game of the day pitted T20I debutants Cayman Islands against Canada, who batted first. The highlight of the Cayman bowling was Paul Manning trapping Nitish Kumar trapped LBW for 41 and then dismissing Rizwan Cheema the very next ball for a duck. At the other end while these two wickets fell was debutant Ravinderpal Singh, who was to go on and carve a little bit of cricketing history for himself over the next hour or so. In 851 previous men’s T20 Internationals, no-one had ever scored a century on debut, but Singh blasted 101 and earned himself a bit of trivia-answer status in the process, as well as man-of-the match honours.
Singh’s innings led Canada to 196/6 in total, which was always going to be a struggle for Cayman. So it proved, with Canada pegging them back to 13/5 off 5 overs, Romesh Eranga doing most of the damage with three wickets. A fine half-century from former Zimbabwean international Gregory Strydom (51) leant the card an air of respectability as they notched 112/7, but it was a comfortable 84 run victory for the Canucks.
Day 2 – Monday August 19th
Action on Day 2 shifted to the National Sports Centre just outside Bermuda’s capital Hamilton.
The morning game saw Bermuda and Canada face off. In a rain-interrupted innings reduced to 16 overs, the home side struggled to 80/9, with Dillon Heyliger starring with the ball for Canada with 4-17.
With ominous clouds forming, Canada’s Cheema and Rodrigo Thomas set out quickly in an effort to beat the rain, reaching 39/0. But Mother Nature had the last laugh when the heavens opened at the end of the fourth over. The game was abandoned just six balls before an official result could be declared. It was tough on Canada who were well ahead on DLS, but the points were shared.
In the afternoon game, rain again played a major part. It all started routinely enough with the USA skittling the Cayman Islands for 89, but the Americans’ chase was to cause more than a few puzzled looks.
They were creeping along at such a snail’s pace that they fell behind the DLS target at the five over mark that would have constituted an official result had it been called at that point. With rain fast approaching the ground, and the US continuing to struggle, a shock was very much on the cards. The rains finally came on 16 overs when the US had reached 60/5, ten runs ahead on DLS – enough to sneak home and avoid a huge embarrassment.
Day 3 – Wednesday 20th August
After a rest day on Tuesday, it was back to White Hill for the third day of action.
The morning saw the Bermuda and Cayman Islands take on each other. Cayman batted first and made a slow but steady start to their innings, Sacha De Alwis, keeper Chad Hauptfleisch and Darren Cato getting to 85/1 after 14.
The wheels then came off. Cato was run out by Deunte Darrell before Strydom fell to Onias Bascombe for a first ball duck caught by Rawlins. The same bowler/catcher combination did for Troy Taylor off Bascome’s next over, before Bascome bowled Wright first ball. Remarkably a third Rawlins catch Bascome in just nine balls dislodged Hauptfleisch for 42 off 40, and gave Bascome the remarkable man-of-the match figures of 4-10. The rest of Cayman’s batting fell away, Rodney Trott picking up a second and George O’Brien taking two of his own to restrict them to 116/9.
Cayman stunned Bermuda early in their reply, skipper Morris trapping Terryn Fray LBW for his second duck of the tournament, and then Ifill picking up Okera Bascome for 6 to leave Bermuda 6/2. Onias Bascome played some shots before falling for 22 to Morris, before the Delray Rawlins show took over. Rawlins had been watchful but suddenly upped the pace whacking five sixes to reach 49 off 31 balls. His innings took Bermuda to 106 before he perished to Troy Taylor trying for one more big shot, but the damage had been done. Kamau Leverock (28 not out off 24) and Deunte Darrell saw Bermuda home to a comfortable 6 wicket win.
The afternoon saw USA and Canada match up in the latest installment of what is the oldest international rivalry in cricket.
USA batted first and got off to a flyer with Xavier Marshall and Monank Patel putting on 39 for the first wicket off just 4.1 overs before Patel fell to Saad bin Zafar. Marshall kept the runs coming with Steven Taylor before losing his wicket to Nikhil Dutta on 22 with the score on 75/2. A big score seemed on the cards, but the US got bogged down in the middle overs as Canada’s fielders did a sterling job to prevent boundaries. A big couple of overs at the end upped the total to 144/5 at the end of the innings but it seemed below par.
Chasing 145, Canada started steadily if not dramatically moving on to 19/1 off three overs, Cheema the man to fall to US skipper Netravalkar. The action then suddenly hotted up with Nitish Kumar and captain Navneet Dhaliwal hitting 20 off five balls
At the halfway mark of Canada’s dig, Dhaliwal had moved onto 29* and Canada 80/3 so it appeared a comfortable chase was on. But the US spinners slowed the run-rate, picking up regular wickets to leave Canada 116/5 off 16, suddenly needing 8.25 an over. After Dhaliwal had fallen for an excellent 54 to Timil Patel’s first ball in the 17th over, Netravalkar bowled a tight18th to leave the equation 18 off 12 balls Dillon Heyliger wasn’t concerned though, blasting 13 runs off the penultimate over, and keeper Hamza Tariq sealed the win with the first ball of the last, sparking joyous scenes in the Canadian team tent.
Day 4: Thursday 22nd August
The fourth day was scheduled to be at the NSC, but on Weds the ICC had announced that due to concerns that the pitch was not of international quality, all remaining games in the tournament would move to White Hill.
The first game was Cayman v Canada. Cayman batted first, and once again struggled to post a competitive total. Canada took regular wickets, Saad Bin Zafar the chief weapon with 3-8 as the Caymanians finished on 91/7.
Cayman once again burst out of the block with the ball. After seven balls, Canada’s scorecard read 0/2 with Morris and Kevin Ebanks snaring Cheema and Thomas respectively. That was the last of Cayman’s fun, with Dhailwal and Kumar chasing down the total in just 12 overs. Dhaliwal finished with a second successive fifty and a second successive man-of-the-match award.
The afternoon game was the big one, a game on which the fate of the tournament was to hang. With Canada on 7 points, Bermuda 5 and the USA just 2, a Bermuda win would see both the hosts and Canada heading to the Emirates website to book their flights to Dubai.
Fray struck first blood for Bermuda, winning the toss and inserting the Americans. In the second over, Monank Patel lobbed a simple catch to Delray Rawlins off the bowling of Malachi Jones – the only remaining member of Bermuda’s 2007 World Cup team and the bowler of the ball that resulted in that Dwayne Leverock catch! Sluggo’s nephew Kamau helped Bermuda get their second wicket in the next over here catching Marshall off the impressive George O’Brien for 17.
Jones then struck again, removing Sohal for five, and when Rawlins bowled Aaron Jones for four the local crowd at White Hill of several hundred was rocking with the visitors 43/4.
Bermuda’s bowlers then continued to keep the score tight, conceding just 42 runs off the next six overs. Onias Bascome struck twice in the 15th, removing both Steven Taylor (23) and Timroy Allen (7). Rawlins bagged his second wicket in the next over (Walsh, 26) and was in the action again in the 17th with a stunning catch off Bascome to remove Gannon for 2, the fourth “c Rawlins b Bascome” wicket in two days!
The US were suddenly 111/8 off 17, but after O’Brien bagged his second wicket removing US captain Netravalkar, the final pair of Karima Gore and Timil Patel moved the score onto 141 at the end of the innings.
Okera Bascome started Bermuda’s chase with a bang, blasting 27 off ten balls, and after three overs Bermuda were cruising at 32/0. A Karima Gore maiden followed, and the 21-year-old struck twice in his next over – removing the Bascome (35) and fellow opener Frey (8).
Timil Patel sucked a little of the crowd’s excitement out of the atmosphere when he had Rawlins caught by Gore on the boundary for 12 with the score on 69 after 9, but this just spurred Malachi Jones on to hit two massive sixes to move the score to 86/3 off 11 overs. Jones fell on 27 to Timil Patel bringing Deunte Darrell to the crease to join Leverock, Both hit massive boundaries before Leverock was bowled by Walsh on 16 with the score on 111/5.
Bermuda still only needed a run-a-ball at this stage but a wicket maiden by Gore in the 17th left Bermuda needing 25 off 18 balls. A no ball by Netravalkar in the next proved critical as Onias Bascome hit the free hit for four to move the dial to 15 off 12.
Enter the hero of the hour. Deunte Darrell was not fazed at all by the occasion and with the baying crowd cheering him on blasted a six straight back over Walsh’s head off the second ball of the 19th over. After a well run two the next ball and a dot ball off the fourth, he got the big levers out again on the fifth and smashed it into the sightscreen behind the bowler for another six and victory for Bermuda.
The celebrations among the team and fans were wild and joyous, and matched only in intensity by the looks of shock and despair on the faces of the Americans, who have worn their favourites hat like a crown of thorns this week.
For Bermuda, the party will start in earnest, but soon enough thoughts will turn to Dubai in October and plotting their next major upset!