By Dyon Ravello
To date the ICC Americas had displayed credible performances twice against Barbados Pride. First setting the Pride 183 to win in the opening match of the 2016 Nagico Super 5O tournament. Americas showed that they deserve to be on this stage as Pride needed a late order partnership to secure a hard-earned four wicket victory. Against Jamaica Scorpions the Americas were set 261 for victory, but could only manage a meager 76 in reply.
Following a rained out match against the host and group leaders Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Americas returned to their feisty ways scoring 202 against a boosted Pride team with six returning West Indian Test players. Again the Americas could only pry out six wickets but nonetheless a credible display by the amateurs.
With just pride to player for in the finally two matches the Americas tackled Red Force for the first time, winning the toss and electing to take first strike. Losing earlier wickets has been a chronic problem for the Americas this tournament. So serious that it cost Ruvindu Gunasekera his job as captain and his place in the side for Friday’s (1/15/2016) match. However the changes proved futile in resolving the issue with the top three being dismissed for 24 within the first 10 overs. Of the top three Steve Taylor was into his fourth innings of the tournament with returns of 17, 12, 41, and 3. Stand-in captain Nitish Kumar who too has also played the entire tournament to date with returns 25, 42, 0 and 2. Akeem Dodson in for his second match on tour, negate the spin with patience. On being served up pace Dodson revert to the aerial root as his means. His first streaky drive eluded the fielder at cover but trying to repeat the shot his paid dearly as Kyle Hope scoped up a leaping catch. Dodson maybe well advised to stick to the shots along the ground if he wants to prove that he belongs at this level, as loose aerial shots are reminiscent of Sunday league club cricket.
Only Srimantha Wijeratne 30 showed purpose against the dominant Red Force as he followed up on his 46 versus the Pride two nights earlier. Wijeratne seemed to be growing in confidence in front of the stumps and is the only player to have played more that one significant innings on tour. Timroy Allen was the only other play to get into double figures for the Americas in a paltry total of 81.
Defending a small total is never a simple task and even more so for a unit learning on the job. Hope compounded the Americas plight as he took 15 off Allen’s first over, the first of the chase. Mohammad Ghous bowled a tight second over, with Jeremy Gordon keeping the Red Force batsmen honest. Hope showed his disdain to dish three boundaries off Ghous. Again Gordon showed the he deserved to be on this stage with his second over. Captain Kumar then turned to himself and Danial Ahmed to try to create inroad in the Red Force line up. Ahmed was on point and even accounted for Hope, working the timber. With time running out Kumar reverted to part-timer Steven Taylor to turn over his off breaks, an over or two which would have been better served for Gordon to show his experience. Red Force completing a compelling nine wicket victory with more that 37 overs to spare.
In the end it was a poor decision to win the toss and bat as the measly total deprived the bowlers of getting a full workout. So too the field placing left a lot to be desired as Kumar had his spinners bowling with Mid Off in the circle even when the initial power-play was completed. In sum Americas have one more chance to play for pride and it serves as an opportunity for the top order to show their true potential; Taylor, Dodson, Kumar, Wijeratne and Amsterdam in particular. Similarly here lies another chance for the bowlers to display their credentials; Gordon, Allen, Ahmed, Ghous, Muhammad Ali Kahn and Hammid Shahid.