Jamaica's long wait is over
Amazing acts of individual brilliance have sometimes decided the outcome of Cup finals, and three breathtaking moments of magic from Shawn Findlay effectively settled the KFC Cup final last night.
As a result, Jamaica's long wait for regional limited-overs glory is over, triggering emotional celebrations that included a spontaneous rendition of their national anthem moments after the mission was accomplished at 9.20pm.
Under lights at the 3Ws Oval before an appreciative crowd, Jamaica won an absorbing duel against dethroned champions Trinidad and Tobago by 28 runs in a match in which Findlay's sensational triple-play in the field proved decisive.
As Trinidad and Tobago were trying to keep hope alive in pursuit of 231 from 50 overs, Findlay produced magic at critical times to help limit the men from the Land Of The Hummingbird to 202 in 49.3 overs.
Daren Ganga's men were just about starting to recover from the early discomfort of 36 for three in a fourth-wicket partnership of 43 between the solid Lendl Simmons and the potential big-hitter Kieron Pollard when Findlay intervened.
Spectators at long-off were scampering for cover when Pollard launched into a drive against medium-pacer Brendan Nash that seemed headed for six, but were stunned to see Findlay leap to clutch in a spectacular left-handed catch.
It was almost unbelievable. It was out of the top drawer. It was one of the finest ever in regional cricket. More was to come. With Simmons on 64 and a lot depending on him, he was prised out required confirmation from the television replay umpire.
It left Trinidad and Tobago 130 for 5 in the 31st over and the match still delicately poised, but Jamaica refused to let up and went on to claim their first regional limited-overs success since 1999.
Denesh Ramdin tried his best to rally the effort for Trinidad and Tobago, but when he was caught at extra-cover for 48 in the 42nd over, the match was as good as over. Findlay's third piece of magic was late in the piece, a wonderful diving catch running in from the cover boundary in which the ball was taken inches off the turf as he dived forward.
Jamaica owed their early inroads to incisive fast bowling from their West Indies combination of Jerome Taylor and Daren Powell, who combined to claim the first three wickets, including Trinidad and Tobago's two most reliable batsmen at this level, Ganga and Dwayne Bravo.
Taylor started things by removing Mario Belcon, who was an lbw victim playing across the line, in very much the same way Powell accounted for Bravo for a first-ball duck. In between, Taylor took care of Ganga, whose unconvincing attempt to hook ended up in a catch to the keeper. Twice, Taylor and Powell knocked batsmen on the helmet and their early impact was just as crucial as Findlay's contribution.
The two fast bowlers were earlier part of Jamaica's rally at a time when Trinidad and Tobago might have been fancying their chances of restricting Jamaica to a total of less than 200. It was somewhat of a surprise that Trinidad and Tobago chose to field first and their decision seemed to be paying off when Jamaica were 167 for 7 in the 42nd over, subsiding to a quick three-wicket burst from leg-spinner Samuel Badree, after off-spinner Sherwin Ganga, who also took three wickets, stemmed the early flow of runs.
Brenton Parchment provided the early impetus with 52 off 67 balls, but after Jamaica ran into the trouble they required important runs from the lower half which was getting a chance to bat for the first time in the competition. Danza Hyatt, who batted at No. 5, made 28 and there were also useful runs from Carlton Baugh (25), Nikita Miller (26), Powell (20) and Taylor (18).