Gutsy Guyana make winning start
Guyana 160 for 5 (Dowlin 60, Pascal 3-21) beat Windward Islands 157 for 8 (Charles 55, Cush 4-25, Bishoo 3-23) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Guyana, one of the teams expected to make the semi-finals, started their campaign with a scrappy victory over Windward Islands in a see-saw game. Opener Travis Dowlin set up the chase of 158 with a composed half-century but till debutant Jonathan Foo bludgeoned 20 runs off the 18th over from Gary Mathurin, it was anybody's game.
It had been another Guyanese debutant, legspinner Devendra Bishoo, who kept the target in check with three quick strikes in the middle of the Windwards innings. Opener Johnson Charles and wicketkeeper-batsman Andre Fletcher had powered Windwards to a strong 83 for 2 in the 12th over before Bishoo removed both in successive overs to derail the innings. It required a late cameo from former international, Rawl Lewis, to push Windwards to a total beyond 150.
Guyana seemed to be coasting towards victory with a set Dowlin and an aggressive Christopher Barnwell piling on 44 runs in less than five overs. They seemed to be cruising at 126 for 3 in 15 overs when the fast bowler Nelon Pascal turned the match around with two wickets in a tight over, removing both Dowlin and Barnwell. That over only cost three runs and Guyana were left requiring 29 off the final three overs with two new batsmen at the crease.
Foo settled the issue, though, by picking up boundaries in his first three deliveries in big-time cricket. The first was driven along the ground past extra cover for four, the next was clubbed over long-off for six and the third was a streaky outside edge to the third man boundary. He then poked a single to short third man, before Royston Crandon rounded off Mathurin's game-changing over with a glance to fine leg for four. After that, Guyana needed only nine in the last two overs, which they got with the help of two more Foo boundaries.
Windwards were hampered due to an injury to their best player, Darren Sammy, who limped through the match. He did provide the first breakthrough by removing Sewnarine Chattergoon, but was taken for 16 runs in his next over by Barnswell. Some of the other big names, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine, also didn't make an impact, but Dowlin's assured innings kept Guyana on track. He smashed two sixes over long-off, besides regularly picking off boundaries to keep the asking rate in check.
Windwards' innings had followed a similar pattern, with an opener making a brisk half-century before a massively expensive over towards the end provided a late boost. Charles capitalised on a series of missed chances to make his highest Twenty20 score. He was dropped thrice on 6, 27 and 30 besides surviving a bunch of run-out chances when the generous Guyana fielders couldn't hit the stumps. In between, he threw his bat around, flatbatting boundaries down the ground besides powering a few fours in the midwicket area.
Still, Bishoo left Windwards in disarray with his assortment of googlies and topspinners on a surface which wasn't providing much turn. Fletcher missed a fullish delivery to be bowled, before Charles went in similar fashion while attempting a swipe to midwicket. That left Windwards at 94 for 3 in 14 overs, and after a brief rebuilding period the innings came to a close with an all-action period.
Crandon's offbreaks were carted by Lewis for three consecutive sixes in the 19th over, before Donwell Hector made it 26 off the over by bludgeoning the final delivery over long-on for six more. The final over started with another dropped chance in the deep, before Lennoix Cush prised out three wickets in the next four deliveries, and Mathurin ended the innings with a glance to fine leg for four to set Guyana a challenging target.