MOLINEUX, ST. KITTS—St. Kitts snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yesterday afternoon in their Nagico One Day cricket match against Nevis a the Edgar Gilbert Sporting Complex in Molineux, St. Kitts.
After getting off to a bad start scoring just 173 for 9, victory seemed almost assured for a Nevis team that had batting power, unless St. Kitts could get early wickets and restrict Nevis’ batting. St. Kitts didn’t get early wickets as was the hope of coach Percy Daniel, but they did contain the Nevis batting, which proved the calm before the storm. Nevis was bowled out for 159. St. Kitts trumped a 14 run victory when it seemed certain for a Nevis victory. This match was nothing short of sheer excitement and entertainment for cricket fans. And there were many fans from both Nevis and St. Kitts, the biggest crowd to date in Zone A since the tournament began.
Tight bowling and excellent fielding gave Nevis the upper hand at the lunch interval.
Nevis came out firing with no time to waste and before long, St. Kitts’ wickets fell in fast succession. Lester Marrishow was the first to go for three runs who was caught by Joel Simmonds from the bowling fury of Adelvin Philip. Twelve minutes later, Shane Jeffers fell for 15 runs after being run out. Fourteen minutes later, another wicket fell, this time it was the century maker from the day before, Codville Rogers who could only handle 17 runs from 18 balls. Nelson Boland was the lucky bowler getting some assistance from Trevia Smithen who delivered the catch.
After a satisfying batting innings in the two previous matches, Junie Mitchum struggled this time around making only six runs from 38 balls and became the fourth St. Kitts victim at the crease. Captain Steve Liburd stood tall for his team scoring 32 runs off 75 balls before he was comprehensively bowled by Daynason Browne 39 minutes after the last wicket fell. At this point it spelt trouble for St. Kitts that needed a firm partnership if they were going to survive the Nevis onslaught. Terrence Ward was short-lived and was the next to go, failing to score after facing three balls thanks to Tonito Willet’s bowling. Runako Morton was a beast in the field delivering three crucial catches, Ward’s wicket being one of them. He was also responsible for Jacques Taylor’s dismissal again being bowled by Willet for 40 runs. Calvin Williams was the next to go six minutes later for one run and the pressure was on St. Kitts. Thanks to Elsroy Powell who has been in great form all week long and his 43 runs from 77 balls, St. Kitts managed to inch closer to the 200 mark and ended the 50 overs innings on 173 for nine. Tonito Willet was the pick of the Nevis’ bowlers, taking three wickets for 32 runs after playing 10 overs. He was joined by Daynason Browne who took two wickets after three overs for just 16 runs. Nelson Boland, Adelvin Philip and Trevia Smithen each took a wicket after playing an average of 7 to 10 overs in the first inning. Fifty-six runs were scored from Philip, 13 from Smithen and 22 from Boland. Jason Campbell did not take a wicket with 34 runs scored from him.
Nevis started cruise control at the start of their batting innings, but the moment Kieran Powell went out for 42 to Jacques Taylor caught and bowled and Carlos Adolphus, the other opener gone for 12, it was downhill for Nevis. Man of the match, St. Kitts’ spin bowler Terrance Ward delivered a hat trick within eight minutes, taking crucial Nevis’ wickets including that of experienced batsman Runako Morton for six runs. This sparked a burst of confidence in the St. Kitts team that later saw the fall of Tonito Willet and Joel Simmons both going for duck from Ward’s bowling. Javier Liburd was bowled by Taylor in a rather awkward way for 18, Jason Campbell went out for two. Trevia Smithen was out for eight and in poor sportsmanship and a signs of frustrations, stomped his bat on the pitch and left it there at disapproval of the umpire’s decision to rule him out. Adelvin Philip was caught by Lester Marrishow for 0 and Nelson Boland only scored one before he was bowled by Elsroy Powell. Daynason Browne was not out on 49 runs. Only 23 runs were scored from Terrence Ward, Elsroy Powell had two wickets for 30 after six overs, Jacques Taylor three for 38 and Steve Liburd two for two.
St. Kitts coach Percy Daniel was pleased with the performance and was impressed that his team pulled off what seemed to be the impossible. He credited the practice sessions prior the match for helping them devise a strategy in the event they score little runs as was the case yesterday. He said the plan was to build the pressure on Nevis and eventually come away with the win, which is precisely what they did yesterday. Daniel was impressed with Nevis’ bowling that scuttled them out for a measly target and he gave them credit for playing so well. At one point, Daniel thought Nevis won the game, after not being able to take early wickets. But he believed the Nevis batsmen were too confident and this gave his team the opportunity to build pressure and eventually win the match.
Daniel also noted that the strategy was to employ spin bowlers in the middle of the bowling line-up to add pressure, with the hope that the pace bowlers took early wickets. In turned out that the spin bowlers, particularly Terrence Ward and his hat trick, began taking the wicket with the pace bowlers slowing down the run rate.
Looking ahead at the semi-finals, which could have included defending champions Antigua, Daniel is not afraid of the Leeward Islands powerhouse. However, he described Antigua as a ghost haunting St. Kitts in the past and the sooner they get rid of them, the better. He relishes the idea of meeting them in the finals and finally dismissing them. "The important thing is to get rid of the ghost. If its Antigua (in the semi-finals) so be it because that will help us to get rid of the ghost, get into the final game and that will give us more confidence," Daniel said. However, they may face that "ghost" in the finals because their next match is on Saturday against St. Maarten at the Caribe Lumber Ballpark in St. Maarten. Nevis will battle Antigua on Friday in the next semi-finals.
The St. Kitts coach believes the team is well experienced, and if they all pull together and concentrate on the game, they have a good chance at winning the championships. What is key is being able to deal with the pressure and prepare intensely for the matches in St. Maarten.