Fantastic Foo gives Guyana title in thriller
Guyana 135 for 9 (Foo 42*, Nurse 5-35) beat Barbados 134 for 5 (Carter 57*, Bishoo 2-14) by one wicket
It was a finish befitting a big final on a night when both teams displayed nerves befitting a big final. In the end, it came down to one man who held his nerve under pressure. Jonathan Foo, the 19-year-old Guyanese discovery of Chinese descent, exploded sensationally as wickets clattered at the other end to steal victory, and a berth in the Champions League, from Barbados' grasp.
Foo arrived with his side's hopes all but dashed. The Bajan spinners, led by Ashley Nurse, had choked Guyana's batting. Their last four batsmen needed 59 off the last five overs but Lennox Cush and Esuan Crandon fell in quick succession. Barbados were already celebrating when Foo marked his guard for one final onslaught: Nurse was lofted over long-off but the smiles were still on the Bajan faces. Dwayne Smith was worked for fours to third man and square leg in the 18th over, but surely Guyana could not pull this off from here? Not after they lost their ninth wicket, Nurse's fifth, with 26 required off 11.
Foo responded by launching Nurse for another huge six over long-off. Barbados' smiles were replaced by frowns now. Then came the defining moment: Nurse delivered a low full toss on leg stump, Foo smashed it high in the direction of deep midwicket where Larry Babb readied himself to take the catch that would have given Barbados the title. It was not to be - he palmed it over the ropes. The force was with Foo and Barbados had just dropped the Caribbean T20.
With 11 to get off the last over, Foo smashed Javon Searles through point for two fours, reminiscent of Lance Klusener's boundaries in that World Cup semi-final. Unlike at Edgbaston, though, Foo had not come this far to return disappointed. More importantly, he had for company a calm No 11. Foo tapped a single to mid-on, giving Devendra Bishoo strike with two required off two. Searles aimed a yorker at off stump and did not miss by much, Bishoo squeezed it out to cover for one, but Sulieman Benn fumbled a regulation stop to allow a second. Foo charged back to the non-striker's end and threw his arms aloft. The Guyanese supporters invaded the field and surrounded their hero, while Ryan Hinds, the Barbados captain, was down on the ground holding his head in despair.
The dramatic denouement to the chase of 135 was preceded by a sluggish and nervy start. Guyana's approach was confusing. They did away with the experimental line-up, which worked wonders in the semi-final, and nearly paid the price for being too conservative. Travis Dowlin, who had batted with freedom in that game, played well within himself tonight against bowling that was at best steady. Searles sprayed wides down leg side and over the batsmen's heads, but Benn was at the batsmen from the start. He trapped Dowlin in the fourth over with an arm ball for 8 off 17 balls. Sewnarine Chattergoon did not fare any better, pottering to 9 off 15 balls before falling in Hinds' first over. Suddenly Guyana were staring at a required-rate in excess of eight in their last 12 overs - no cause for alarm by Twenty20 standards, but not in these conditions against a determined attack.
Runs came in singles until the 12th over when Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine swung Hinds for a four and a six each. Things went awry in the next over though, as Nurse got Sarwan and Christopher Barnwell to hole out. When Hinds took out Deonarine in the 14th over, Guyana had lost half their side with less than half the target achieved. Hurricane Foo, though, was about to ravage Barbados.
Both teams had disregarded the conditions at the start of the game: despite the possibility of showers Barbados chose to bat, and despite the bounce and movement on offer, Guyana used offspinner Cush with the new ball. Initially Cush's lengths were poor and Dale Richards capitalised to kick-start Barbados' innings. Esuan got sharp movement but repeatedly bowled inswingers down the leg side.
In the third over, Cush got Richards to top-edge a full toss to short third man. That brought Jonathan Carter to the crease and just like that Esuan transformed from inconsistent to unplayable. Carter rarely got bat on ball and his early troubles against Esuan set the tone for his entire innings, though, to his credit he did not throw it away. Barnwell struck after the Powerplay with a smart change of pace, foxing Kirk Edwards into an early waft.
Carter played and missed often and was guilty of not rotating the strike enough. His momentum was subdued further by a short ball from Barnwell that thudded into his box and had him in strife. Alcindo Holder tried to inject urgency by coming down the track. He picked a couple of boundaries but the ploy did not work against Bishoo, and Holder holed out to deep midwicket in the 15th over. Dwayne Smith also failed under pressure, slogging Bishoo straight to Foo at long on.
Barbados desperately needed to finish on a high and they succeeded by stealing 33 runs off the last three overs. Three sixes were struck in that passage of play, including a monster blow from Carlo Morris that nearly landed in the commentary box and a last-ball six over midwicket by Carter. That was after Carter had reached 50 off 60 balls, getting a couple after heaving to cow corner where Foo put him down. Unfortunately for Barbados, it was to be Foo's only error on the night.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo