It was dubbed ‘Balls of Fury 2’ from the first match between the CARICOM Superstars and the President’s XI at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence the previous night and Saturday night’s action was no different, as the Superstars led by Chris Gayle defeated their Ramnaresh Sarwan led opponents once again.
But this time around, the fans who turned out in their thousands to see President Bharrat Jagdeo bowl the first ball and stayed around until the players departed, got their money’s worth as they saw discarded Berbice leg -spinner Mahendra Nagamootoo grabbed a hat- trick, while Gayle slammed a 59 ball 75 with five sixes and four fours.
Being asked to take first strike on a better prepared pitch, compared to the one used the previous night, the CARICOM Superstars led by Gayle and Darren Bravo’s 22 ball 44, scored 164-9 from their 20 overs, against Nagamootoo’s fine figures of 4-1-14-5, his second five wicket haul in this version of the game.
In reply, the President’s XI could only manage 144-9 from their 20 overs, despite a stubborn and resilient 34 from Derwin Christian, 21 from Sewnarine Chattergoon and an unbeaten 20 from Lennox Cush, as Xavier Marshal 3-22 and Dwayne Bravo with 2-40 saw their team to victory.
It was vintage Gayle and Darren Bravo who struck 10 sixes and five fours between them, that brought the crowd to life, following the early demise of Lendl Simmons (04), Marshall (07) and Dwayne Bravo (02) which left the Superstars on 46-3 in the ninth over.
Gayle responded by hitting Barnwell exquisitely off the back foot through extra cover for four, followed by an audacious pull shot back over the bowler’s head for a maximum and when Sarwan replaced Barnwell with Cush, the latter was reverse swept for four, whilst Esaun Crandon was also hit back over his head for a maximum.
Apparently Nagamootoo loved the way the explosive Jamaican was batting, hence he offered him a chance when on 29 off Devendra Bishoo, to which the talismanic West Indies opener responded with a deft late cut through point for four.
Darren Bravo joined the act by hitting the hapless Bishoo over long on for six, then watched as Gayle also dispatched the national right arm leg spinner in the same area for a maximum, all in the 12th over which went for 15 runs.
Bravo continued his six hitting act, when he dispatched Cush over long off in the 13th over, followed by two more over square leg and long on in successive overs off Deonarine and another over wide long on off Barnwell.
His skipper reached his half- century and the lone one of the match from 45 balls hitting three fours and an equal number of sixes, with a single off Barnwell, before Bravo sent the same bowler over wide long on for a maximum.
Cush replaced Deonarine and he too was struck back over his head by Bravo for six but after being struck back along the ground by the same batsman, Cush got his revenge when Bishoo held a well judged catch as Bravo tried to clear long on, bringing an end to a 87 runs partnership which came off 44 balls and included eight sixes and three fours.
At 133-4 at the end of 16 overs, became 141-5 when Barnwell removed Kieron Pollard (08; 1x6) who held out to Chattergoon at deep midwicket, two balls after hitting the bowler over deep square leg for six.
Gayle thanked Nagamootoo for the life he gave him earlier, by hitting him over wide midwicket for six but after hitting Crandon for four through point, the rest of the show in his team’s innings belonged to Nagamootoo.
Breaking his contract in Canada to return home for selection to the Berbice reduced 36 man squad, ‘Yanko’ was disappointed as he did not find favour with the selectors who may be fuming with anger, as he conceded one run from the final over, whilst taking four wickets in five balls.
The President’s XI began their reply with Chattergoon (21) and Sarwan (00) and were quickly rocked by Rampaul who once again, got an edge off Sarwan on its way to Ramdin in the second over, but Chattergoon responded with a four off Rampaul and watched as Fudadin (12) also struck Cooper for four.
Cooper had the final laugh, when he knocked back the middle stump of Fudadin whilst Rampaul ran out Chattergoon, but not before the batsman had struck Davon Cruickshank over midwicket for six, to leave the President’s XI on 41-3 in the eight over.
Christian strode to the wicket at the demise of Fudadin and added 19 with Narsingh Deonarine (08), before the latter and Barnwell (11; 1x6) lost their middle stump to Marshall’s medium pace bowling, with Barnwell losing his after hitting the bowler over long off for six.
Crandon (11) joined Christian at 74-5 and they took the score to 85, before the Bravo combination of Darren who was executing wicket keeping duties and bowler Dwayne accounted for Crandon much to the delight of the Superstars on the field.
Steven Jacobs (01) one of two replacements in the President’s XI side from the first game, Bishoo being the other, never suggested permanence, thus it was no surprise when he was adjudged lbw to Marshall which left his team on 86-7 in the 16th over.
Nagamootoo struck Marshall through point for four, but was caught by Pollard in the next over off Dwayne Bravo and as a show of good faith, Gayle entrusted Ramdin with the ball for the 18th over, to which Christian responded with four fours from five balls between point and extra cover to push the score to 111-8 at the end of the over.
Simmons bowled the penultimate over and was struck for three successive boundaries by Cush, followed by another off the final delivery, as some respectability was brought to the home team’s total, which at one time looked as if it would not get to the 100 mark.
Gayle took it upon himself to bowl the final over and he surprised all and sundry gathered at the ground, when he took a medium pacer’s run up to deliver to Christian who dispatch the second ball for four, before picking out Dwayne Bravo at short fine leg off the next delivery.
Bishoo strode to the wicket and was met by Gayle who sought and received the support of the crowd, in similar fashion to that of Cuban high jumper Javier Sotomayor after each delivery, with a cut throat signal, also similar to that of WWE’s Undertaker.
The crowd warmed to every antic displayed by the tall Jamaican, who asked all his fielders to go into the slip cordon, then bowled a short delivery which Bishoo pulled to forward square leg for four and to the amusement of the crowd, all the fielders minus Gayle, chased after the ball.