Bermuda win another close one
Bermuda came out on top again in another thrilling match at King City. Both teams bowled and fielded exceedingly well, but Bermuda knocked off Canada's top order cheaply, allowing them to run off with a series victory.
Canada started out well in the attack, as Umar Bhatti cleaned up yesterday's man of the match Chris Foggo on just the fifth ball of the match. It was a good opening spell overall for the Canadians, as Henry Osinde partnered with Bhatti to limit Bermuda's run-scoring efforts. The second wicket went to Bhatti again, as he induced an edge from Celestine that carried to Qaiser Ali at slip.
After Oronde Bascombe and Irving Romaine were taken care of in quick succession, Bermuda were struggling at 67 for 4 from 17.5 overs. Stephen Outerbridge threatened to have a big innings, but was trapped leg before wicket by Sunil Dhaniram with his score on 42. The innings threatened to collapse with Bermuda on 89 for 5, and they needed a big partnership. It was provided by Rodney Trott and Jekon Edness.
They navigated the tricky middle overs as the Canadian spinners were threatening. They batted at similar rates, always cautiously, and kept the scoreboard ticking over with some well-placed shots and aggressive running. Their sixth-wicket partnership lasted 64 minutes, 17.3 overs, and added 72 runs to the Bermuda tally. It was finally broken when Dhaniram bowled him - he tried to drive over extra cover and was beaten by the spin, taking the top of off-stump.
That was the third of Dhaniram's five wickets, which he took at a cost of just 32 runs. His bowling kept a lid on Bermuda throughout his 10 over spell, and he reacted to his maiden ODI 5 wicket haul by kneeling and kissing the pitch. Umar Bhatti took 2 wickets, conceding 32 runs in 8 overs, while Harvir Baidwan had figures of 1 for 39 in 10 overs of work.
There was concern for Canada in the 31st over, as the accomplished swing bowler Umar Bhatti went down with a shoulder injury suffered diving for a ball at the boundary. Canada's second shoulder injury in as many days - after Zubin Surkari seperated his shoulder yesterday - left them short of players in general and short of bowlers in this game, as Steven Welsh had been left out of the lineup. But Baidwan's efforts along with Dhaniram and Osinde's contributions saw them home.
Bermuda's batsmen managed to keep the remainder of their wickets until the late going, allowing them to have a bit of a hit in the final overs. Rodney Trott led the way right through to the end, facing 100 balls and ending on 48 not out. His work brought the total to one that their bowlers could have a chance to defend. He was deprived of a chance to hit his 50 by a leg bye on the penultimate ball of the innings. It put him off strike, and Dwayne Leverock faced the last ball. He hit a single, which brought the Bermuda total to 201 for the loss of 8 wickets in their 50 overs.
The rains came over the lunch hour, and delayed the restart by around 45 minutes, which meant Canada would be chasing a revised target of 196 to win from 47 overs. The rain also meant Canada would face very similar conditions to those Bermuda faced - cool and a little damp.
Bermuda's opening bowlers came out with some fire, Ryan Steede swinging the ball well and George O'Brien sending some blisteringly fast balls down the pitch. Geoff Barnett had another disappointing performance being trapped lbw by Steede in the second over with only a single run next to his name. Trevin Bastiampillai followed soon after after gloving an O'Brien bouncer to Dwayne Leverock. Canada were in trouble on 24 for 2 in the seventh over.
It didn't get any better for the home team. Abdool Samad was comprehensively beaten by a beautiful yorker from O'Brien, who bowled wonderfully through the power play overs. Ashish Bagai showed again why he is a wonderful 4-day batsman - but often struggles with his scoring rate in ODIs. It took him 17 balls to make just 5 runs. Then in an effort to increase the scoring rate, he scooped an aerial ball to Rodney Trott at cover, off a Leverock delivery.
Ian Billcliff also started patiently, but then succumbed to a rush of blood. He flashed late at an O'Brien delivery and nicked it through to the keeper Jekon Edness, having made only 3 runs. Once again Canada's so-called specialist batsmen are disappointing, Billcliff and Barnett making only 4 runs between them.
The Canadian innings failed to pick up any significant momentum as runs came as singles; and all too sporadically. Qaiser Ali and Sunil Dhaniram batted safely, but often seemed tentative and unwilling to play aggressive scoring shots. It was indicative of Canada's relative success in long-form matches, but struggles in ODI play.
Their intent was to build a partnership patiently, and hit big shots later, but that plan failed when Ali's hook shot found Tamauri Tucker on the deep square leg boundary. Canada were on a downright embarassing 61 for 6 off 22 overs.
Sunil Dhaniram continued with his good form with the bat (not to mention the ball) and batted on, increasing in confidence while building a partnership with Harvir Baidwan that would reach 78 runs for the 7th Canadian wicket. They both batted much more aggressively than earlier batsmen, and the partnership was only broken when Baidwan was run out on a mix-up on a close single, having made 33 runs off of 48 deliveries.
Dhaniram made his 50 off 63 balls and batted on with Henry Osinde and Sami Faridi as his partners. He played shots all around the ground and brought Canada to the brink of victory - only for their hopes to be dashed. He was bowled by Stephen Outerbridge bowling his only over of the match on the last ball of the 45th over. His 79 runs, coupled with his 5 wickets, earned him man of the match honours in a losing cause.
Umar Bhatti tried to bat with his arm in a sling, but that led to Faridi being run out on a suicidal second run attempt. When the final run fell, Canada had made 184 runs - still 12 short of their target. But this match wasn't lost in the final overs, it was lost in the early going when great bowling coupled with complacent batting led to wickets falling and runs not appearing on the scoreboard.
So Bermuda clinch the series, with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3 game set. They'll play for pride here on Tuesday, and hopefully the Canadians can make a better effort with the bats on Canada Day. Then we'll reconvene on Friday for an Intercontinental Cup match.