Marshall fifty steers Jamaica to victory
Jamaica 126 for 1 (Marshall 62*) beat Leeward Islands 124 for 7 (Willett 37, Santokie 3-20, Gayle 2-19) by nine wickets
The Jamaican bowlers operated with discipline and control to restrict Leeward Islands to a low total at the Kensington Oval while Leeward, on the other hand, were shoddy, conceding too many extras during their defence. Their fielders dropped catches too and therein lay the difference between the two sides.
Leewards openers, Javier Liburd and Shane Jeffers, made a steady start in front of a crowd that had grown in numbers since the poor turnout for the Caribbean T20's opening game. They added 29, and then Liburd crashed Gayle over the midwicket boundary, before he spooned the next delivery to Tamar Lambert at cover. The score was 35 for 1 after six but it got much worse for Leewards in the next over.
Left-arm medium-pacer Krishmar Santokie, in his first over, bowled Jeffers, who played across the line to a straight one and missed. Leeward's captain Wilden Cornwall also committed a similar error next ball and lost middle stump, leaving Santokie on a hat-trick at the end of a double-wicket maiden. He should have got one too, but the umpire did not uphold an appeal for lbw against Tonito Willett, who capitalised on his left-off by glancing for four.
Willett and Runako Morton attempted to repair an innings that had lost three wickets for no runs by dabbing the ball around while waiting for the loose delivery. Willett was more fluent than his partner but failed to put away a couple of offerings from Santokie, before driving a third over the long-off boundary. Jamaica's bowlers remained in control throughout by bowling frequent dot balls and ensured Leeward's innings never gained momentum.
The partnership was worth 60 when Santokie broke it with the last ball of his spell, having Willett caught by David Bernard at long on. Gayle delivered a couple of tight overs to finish with 2 for 19 - castling Morton for his second wicket - but Nikita Miller, after three economical overs, was loose in his last, conceding two sixes to allow the Leeward Islands a score of 124 for 7.
Jamaica's explosive opening combination, Chris Gayle and Xavier Marshall, began uncharacteristically and were scoreless for the first 11 deliveries of the chase. Then Gavin Tonge dug one in too short and conceded five wides over the keeper's head. Lionel Baker gave Jamaica five more in similar fashion in the third over. Gayle, who at one stage was 0 off 8 balls, went after Tonge, driving the ball powerfully to the straight boundary twice. The offspinner Justin Athazaze came on for an over during the fielding restrictions and Gayle hit him flat over mid-off.
The sixth over, bowled by Omari Banks, was the game breaker. His first ball was a full toss that Gayle disdainfully deposited over the midwicket boundary. Banks' response was terrible - two flat leg-side wides which beat the keeper and went to the boundary. He could have repaired some of the damage when Marshall skied a slog to cover but Tonge never looked comfortable under the swirling ball and spilt the catch. Jamaica took 20 runs of the over to move to 54 for 0.
Gayle was eventually run out after responding late to Marshall's call for 22 off 24 balls with the score on 60. Marshall was slower than Gayle but extras - the final tally was 25 - had boosted the run-rate well above what was required and Jamaica needed only 58 off the last ten overs.
Marshall gave Leewards one more chance, offering a high catch to long on, but it was not taken by Banks. The opener then broke a six-over boundary drought by forcing Cornwall through midwicket and brought up the 100 with a six off the same bowler in the same region. He got to his half-century off 51 balls, though it was a far from convincing performance, and ended the match with a powerful straight drive off legspinner Anthony Martin in the 18th over.