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On the first day in the ICC Americas WCL Division Two Championship, taking place in Paramaribo, Suriname, the hosts failed in an exciting run-chase to overcome a tidy Panama side, while strong pre-tournament favourites Bahamas hammered the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Playing on the impressive new Owru Kul oval, Suriname won the toss and looked to have made the best of the decision by reducing Panama to 26 for 3 after deciding to bowl. However man of the match Irfan Tarajia put up stubborn resistance while mixing caution and aggression, to register the first century of the tournament. Tarajia made 102 off 147 balls, including seven fours and seven sixes.
The only other meaningful contribution came from Jatin Amir, who made 27 and shared in a crucial fifth-wicket stand of 69 with Tarajia before departing in the 32nd over. Tarajia was eventually the eighth wicket to fall, but had steered Panama to a more than respectable total of 251 for 9, especially on a ground with a heavy outfield after overnight rain.
Suriname were left to rue a dismal performance in the field, dropping at least six catches and sending down 40 wides. Carlos Baker was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 47 in eight overs.
Suriname made a steady start, reaching 102 for 1 in the 25th over, before the innings fell apart as they lost four wickets in quick succession and stumbled to 116 for 5. The match swung again as captain Sanjai Meghoe (29) and Troy Dudnauth (35) put Suriname back in the game with a sixth-wicket partnership of 57, and a tense finish was on the cards. However with the run out of Meghoe their challenge subsided and they were eventually all out for 220 in the 46th over.
In the other game of day one strong favourites Bahamas were in rampant mood as they raced to a nine-wicket victory over the Turks and Caicos Islands, reaching their simple target of 80 in 7.5 overs.
Turks and Caicos Islands found themselves in early trouble with both openers removed without scoring. Donavan Matthews (29) put up some, but no other batsman reached double figures as the innings ended in 22 overs. Lee Melville was the pick of the Bahamas bowlers with 3 for 25, while Roderick Mitchell and Andrew Ford also bowled well.
With one eye on approaching rain clouds, and the other perhaps on possible future net run-rate equations, Bahamas blasted their way to victory, led by Howard Roye’s 22 off five balls with 22 off five balls
The winner of this event will be promoted to the Americas Division One Championship, while the team finishing fourth will be relegated to Americas Division Three.
Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.