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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
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Nadia Gruny produced USA’s second half-century of the week to lead her side to an 85-run win over Bermuda on Friday in the 2012 ICC Americas Women’s Twenty20 Championship at JP Powell Oval in George Town, Cayman Islands. USA moved to 4-0 with the win to set up a winner-take-all showdown with 4-0 Canada on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at JP Powell Oval. Bermuda dropped to 1-3 with the loss. If USA beats Canada, they’ll not only claim the tournament title but will advance to the 2013 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier.
USA batted first for the fourth match in a row after Bermuda won the toss and chose to field. USA made one change to their lineup from Wednesday’s win over Argentina as Delkash Shahriarian replaced Geetha Shawkarla.
Anahita Arora became Gruny’s third opening partner of the tournament on Friday, but the move did not pay off as hoped when Arora was bowled for 4 by Reuna Richardson in the second over to make it 10 for 1. As has been the case all week after her arrival to the crease, USA captain Candacy Atkins helped build a strong partnership to put USA on the path to victory. She had scored 31 off 24 balls, including six boundaries, when she retired hurt at the end of the ninth over with the score 63 for 1. Her fitness status is unknown heading into Saturday’s crucial match against Canada.
Melissa Sandy entered at number four and scored 9 before she was stumped by Rickelle Smith off the bowling of Rachael Smith to make it 79 for 2 in the 13th. Gruny and Karen Bayles accelerated rapidly over the final seven overs in a 73-run partnership for the third wicket. Bayles scored 29 off 25 balls with three fours and a six while Gruny made 54 off 58 with five boundaries before she was bowled by Richardson on the final ball of the innings as USA finished their 20 overs on 152 for 3. Richardson finished with 2 for 32 for Bermuda.
The score was way beyond what Bermuda was capable of chasing with their brittle batting order. Richardson was the first to go, bowled by Triholder Marshall for 1 to make it 10 for 1 in the third over. Bermuda captain Terry-Lynn Paynter top scored with 20 off 16 balls opening the innings, but when she was the second to go in the fifth over, it effectively sealed the fate for both teams on the day.
Number three Maryellen Jackson scored 14 not out from a painstakingly slow 48 balls. Brittney Marshall was dismissed for 5 by Gruny, who is making a strong case for Player of the Tournament. Claudine Beckford had Rickelle Smith caught by Arora for 1 to make it 44 for 4 in the 12th before a flurry of wickets fell in the final over.
Melissa Sandy and Claudine Beckford teamed up to run out Precious Smith for 10 to make it 62 for 5. Samantha Ramautar then struck twice to stretch her team lead to eight wickets at the tournament. She bowled Lauren Faris for a golden duck and then bowled Emma Simmons for 2 as Bermuda finished their 20 overs on 67 for 7. Ramautar finished with figures of 2 for 10 in four overs while Marshall took 1 for 9 in four and Beckford finished with 1 for 8 in four including three maidens.
In Friday’s other matches, Cayman Islands defeated Brazil by seven wickets to put Brazil in danger of being relegated to ICC Americas Women’s Division Two. Brazil won the toss and batted first in a match delayed by rain that was reduced to 13 overs. Brazil posted 57 for 8 with 23 of those runs coming in extras. Vanessa Cameron Clarke took 3 for 14 for Cayman Islands. Wyvonne Forbes scored 20 off 22 balls at the top of the order for Cayman Islands to propel the chase as the host country reached the target with 3.2 overs to spare for their first win of the tournament while Brazil remains winless at 0-4.
Canada also won a rain-reduced match over Argentina by 11 runs. Argentina won the toss and as they have done all week elected to chase with each team’s innings shortened to five overs per side. Canada posted 35 for 4 in their 30 legal deliveries but Argentina could only manage 24 for 6 in reply. Argentina fell to 2-2 with the loss.