West Indies tops heading into final
Canada put up a good effort, led by Rizwan Cheema on both sides of the ball, but West Indies managed to lock up a comfortable win in the first of two meetings between the sides this weekend. Xavier Marshall's 157 not out led the visitors to the finals undefeated. Still, the home side showed they can play with the big boys, and there's an entertaining series final coming up on Sunday.
The day started well enough for the tourists, with Sewnarine Chattergoon and captain Chris Gayle making a good start after winning the toss. The Canadian bowlers Eion Katchay and Harvir Baidwan bowled tight lines to restrict the scoring rate, but didn't threaten to take any wickets in the first power play. Gayle was just starting to heat up when Katchay got the breakthrough, a mistimed square cut leading to a catch by Abdool Samad. Samad's second catch sent Chattergoon back to the pavilion off of Rizwan Cheema's bowling, and at the end of the 20 power play overs West Indies were likely disappointed to be on just 68 for 2.
Any disappointment would be short lived for the West Indian side, as Xavier Marshall and Leon Johnson settled in for what would be a valuable partnership. Marshall was the more aggressive of the two, reaching his 50 off just 47 balls, including 7 boundaries and 2 sixes in getting to that point. Johnson played more patiently, bringing up his 50 in 75 balls with only 3 boundaries and a single maximum. Just as it looked like the partnership would last forever, Johnson was dismissed when he edged a Cheema delivery to the keeper, but the 128 run third wicket put the visitors well on their way to a large total.
Shawn Findlay was in and out quickly for 9 runs, but Brendan Nash managed to stick with Marshall and batted on into the late overs. Marshall went on to make the first century of this series, and did so using exactly 100 balls. He then proceeded to crank up his scoring rate in the late overs to finish on 157 not out from 118 balls, including an astounding 11 boundaries and 12 sixes in his innings. Nash chipped in as well in the late going, making a quickfire 39 not out off 28 balls. Their unbeaten fifth wicket partnership added 111 runs in just 69 balls. When the dust had cleared, West Indies went into lunch with a total of 303 for 4.
Rizwan Cheema was by far the best bowler for Canada, taking 3 wickets for 31 runs in his 10 overs and truly bamboozling the West Indian batsmen at times. Eion Katchay was also great with the ball, bowling his overs straight through during the power play overs and returning sparkling figures of 10-3-25-1. The rest of the Canadian bowlers did not fare as well. Harvir Baidwan bowled 10 overs and conceded 77 runs, Dhaniram gave up 52 from just 8 overs, and Sami Faridi bowled a single over – for 17 runs.
Cheema's good day continued as he got Canada off to another quick start in the run chase, playing Daren Powell and Jerome Taylor aggressively and sending the sizable crowd into raptures. Mohammad Iqbal edged through to the keeper, but Cheema made up for it racing to a quickfire 50 off of 31 balls including 5 boundaries and 4 huge sixes. He made the most of a second life he was granted when a top edge was allowed to drop between Chattergoon and Marshall at square leg, when neither man attempted to take the catch. Canada made a very useful 75 runs off the first 10 over power play – more than West Indies made in their full 20 overs with the fielding restrictions in place.
Cheema went on, supported by Ashish Bagai, as he continued abusing the West Indian bowling. He was put down again, this time by Shawn Findlay on the long on boundary with his score on 58, and again punished the poor fielding by adding runs to his tally. For a while it seemed he may challenge John Davison's record for fastest ODI century by a Canadian, but he would ultimately fall short, caught at backward square leg for 89 off 69 balls, with 76 of the runs coming from boundaries and sixes.
The bottom fell out of the Canadian innings shortly after Cheema's dismissal, with Bagai trapped leg before wicket by Roach shortly thereafter, and Ramesh David unable to get going before Powell got him lbw as well. Abdool Samad looked to be getting his eye in when he was caught on the long on boundary by Shawn Findlay, and Canada were in a spot of bother at 177 for 4 through 32 overs.
From there, Canada could get nothing going. No other batsman was able to exceed 30 runs, as the rest of the middle order were in and out cheaply and Canada ended up slumping to 254 all out from 47.2 overs, good for a 49-run win to the West Indies.
Brendan Nash was the top bowler on the day, taking 3 wickets and conceding 56 runs in 10 overs of bowling. Dave Mohammed was also exemplary, with 2 wickets taken and 34 runs conceded. Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell, Kemar Roach, and Sewnarine Chattergoon grabbed a wicket each to clean up the Canadians.
So it was an entertaining match, with flashes of brilliance from both sides, and leads to an exciting day on Sunday with the potential for another cracking match.