Captain gives Bermuda control
It was another see-saw day at King City, which saw Bermuda recover from a deep hole in the morning, Canada fight back in the afternoon, and Bermuda end up with their nose in front with some superb bowling in the last hour of the day. It's been four day cricket at its best, and it should continue into the final day tomorrow.
Bermuda came out in the morning with a clear plan – stay at the wicket as long as possible. Overnight batsman Iriving Romaine was joined by Jekon Edness, the last real recognized bat in the Bermuda lineup and set out to build a patient partnership to get Bermuda back into the game. They did just that! Without offering as much as a chance to the Canadian bowlers, they chipped away and added 74 runs through the morning session to guide Bermuda to 152 for 5 at lunch.
Canada sent down an astonishing 43 overs in the two hour session, with Sunil Dhaniram bowling straight through from the Pavilion End. He had a span of 46 straight balls delivered without conceding a run, including 7 consecutive maiden overs. When Romaine finally broke the spell, nudging a ball to the leg side, he held a mock celebration as though he had just made a century!
Canada needed a breakthrough soon after lunch to get themselves back into the game – and they got one! Jekon Edness was trying another forward defensive, but just left his bat a bit too vertical, and the ball popped up ever so slightly, and was gobbled up by substitute fielder Sami Faridi at short cover. An 82 run sixth-wicket partnership was broken at last, with Edness gone for 46 runs off 123 deliveries.
But Canada's joy was shortlived, as Romaine batted on, joined by Dwayne Leverock who batted up the order in eighth position. They continued frustrating Canada's attack with their composure and shotmaking, adding to their lead and to the target Canada would have to chase. Romaine made his 50 from a patient 211 balls, with 5 boundaries included in the runs. It looked as though Romaine and Leverock would take the match out of reach, but Romaine fell when he was tempted into a cover drive on a wide delivery from Saad bin Zafar. He nicked it, Billcliff caught it, and the captain was finally dismissed, having made 84 runs from 276 balls – a true captain's innings that lasted 5 minutes shy of 5 hours.
That wicket fell shortly before tea, and at the interval, Bermuda were 229 for 7, good for a lead of 238 and a very evenly poised match. A pitch that showed signs of moving yesterday returned to being very flat today, and Bermuda entered the final session looking to add as many runs as possible to the target that Canada would have to chase.
Canada did well to clean up the Bermuda tail – a feat they couldn't accomplish in the first innings – Ryan Steede was caught at short cover by Geoff Barnett off the bowling of Saad bin Zafar, who claimed 4 wickets for 58 runs in his 25 overs. His scalps included those of Irving Romaine and Jekon Edness. He was not, however, the best Canadian bowler on the day. That honour again belonged to Sunil Dhaniram who bowled a superhuman 42.5 overs, conceding just 36 runs and taking 4 wickets including Stefan Kelly and George O'Brien on consecutive balls to end the Bermuda innings. His economy rate of 0.84 was aided by his 24 maidens as he held down the scoring rate throughout his spell.
Bermuda finished their innings on 248 runs, good for a 257 run lead heading into Canada's second innings. There was time left for 12 overs to be bowled before the close of the third day's play. Bermuda were looking to make the new ball dance, while Canada wanted to make a safe start to a chase that required reasonable batting.
Bermuda were missing their lead bowler, as George O'Brien was out due to an ankle injury he aggravated during the morning warm-ups. Stefan Kelly filled in admirably, and he struck the first blow when a full pitched off cutter squared up Abdool Samad and sent him on his way with a golden duck. Trevin Bastiampillai didn't do much better, as he was caught by Steede on the deep backward square leg boundary while trying to hook another Kelly delivery for a maximum. Canada were pegged back at 10 for 2 in just the sixth over.
Geoff Barnett looked to be making a strong start, but Dwayne Leverock dismissed him in his first over of work when Barnett tried to turn a ball to the leg side, but instead fed a simple chance to Stefan Kelly at leg slip. It looked like Ian Billcliff and Saad bin Zafar would see their way to the end of the day safely, but in the final over before stumps bin Zafar was caught by Chris Foggo at bat pad to put Canada at 32 for 4 at stumps – in other words: in real trouble.
This all sets up an intriguing final day of action in this ICC Intercontinental Cup match. Canada require 226 runs to win; Bermuda need 6 wickets. It should be a close finish, and one thing seems certain, a result. The uncertainty lies in what that result will be. Bermuda have the advantage, but this Canada team bats deep, and this match is far from over.