USA batsman Steven Taylor became the first USA player to score a Twenty20 century on Friday afternoon at Brian Piccolo Park, notching 101 off 62 balls to lead USA to victory over Bermuda by 48 runs on Duckworth-Lewis Method at the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament. USA’s win was their seventh in seven matches this week and clinched both the tournament title for them as well as a spot in the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier this November in the UAE.
Image (above) - Steven Taylor watches the ball sail over the rope for his sixth six to bring up USA's first T20 century. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
“We just came out with a positive approach,” Baker said. “We knew it was Bermuda and it’s our last big chance at them. We wanted to crush them. We didn’t want to just win, but win big. We went out and give it our best and we come out today with a big win again.”
In the process of reaching his ton, Taylor broke his own USA record score in T20 cricket which was 95 against Cayman Islands on the first day of this tournament. Taylor is now the leading scorer in the event with 286 runs, well ahead of Bahamas’ Marc Taylor who has 228.
“It felt good because I was very disappointed in myself not getting the first hundred,” Taylor said. “I ought to have two. I was glad to get my first hundred.”
USA won the toss and elected to bat first against Bermuda as Timothy Surujbally and Saqib Saleem sat out while Elmore Hutchinson nursed a groin strain sustained in morning warm-ups. The match began after an 11-minute rain delay before Taylor and Akeem Dodson opened for USA on a placid wicket. Play was halted briefly in the second over with USA on 21/0 for an 18-minute rain break before the match resumed.
Keeping their focus in the face of the spitting rain, Taylor and Dodson produced USA’s best first wicket partnership of the tournament, 68 runs in just 5.5 overs. Dodson finished with 23 off 15 balls before he was out caught on the cover boundary off the bowling of Janeiro Tucker. Taylor added 46 with Nicholas Standford and brought up his 50 in 34 balls during their stand. Standford scored 18 and was dismissed leg before missing a sweep against Jacobi Robinson. Barrington Bartley lasted just three balls, bowled for 4 by Malachi Jones in the 14th.
Image (right) - Taylor's innings started with rain drops falling around him as he took on Bermuda's bowling unit. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Taylor was joined by Baker and the pair generated USA’s second half-century stand of the match, 50 runs for the fourth wicket to tie a fourth-wicket record partnership for USA in T20 cricket held by Baker and Aditya Mishra against Namibia in 2012. Baker worked at giving Taylor the strike and with four overs left, Taylor was 25 away from the magic three figures.
Taylor had the strike for all but one delivery of the 17th but could only manage a three off the first ball before dots piled up in the rest of the over. His frustration was evident as he attempted an unsuccessful reverse sweep on the final ball in an effort to get unstuck. However, a full toss from Maybury three balls into the 18th disappeared over midwicket and got the wheels turning again for Taylor. After a two and a three on the next two balls, he entered the 19th over on 89.
In USA’s first match of the tournament, Taylor was caught on the boundary for 95 against Cayman Islands as he tried to bring up a century with a six. This time he was the beneficiary of some good fortune when a chance at long off on 89 was spilled by the sub fielder Sam Robinson over the boundary line for a six to take Taylor to 95. Later in the over, he went for the glory shot and this time succeeded, striking his sixth six wide of long on to bring up triple figures in just 61 balls.
Taylor was finally dismissed on his next delivery, bowled by Jones to start the 20th, but not before he took USA to an easily defendable position of 184 for 4. Tucker was the only bowler who avoided Taylor’s wrath, finishing with 1 for 19 in four overs. Every other Bermuda bowler went for at least nine runs per over.
Image (left) - Taylor punches through the off side after the sun came out. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
The pitch stayed in good shape for the start of Bermuda’s chase. After a blip at the start of their innings with the loss of Lionel Cann for 10, Bermuda was ahead of the asking rate after four overs at 39 for 1. USA’s spinners worked to rein Bermuda back in. Ryan Corns got the momentum shifting back USA’s way with the first of his three wickets, David Hemp caught at deep midwicket for 2 to make it 40 for 2. Bartley foxed Dion Stovell to have the opener out stumped by Dodson for 26 to make it 52 for 3 after 6. Bermuda captain Stephen Outerbridge was caught at midwicket for 4 to give Corns his second. Corns then delivered the knockout blow, inducing a skied chance from Tucker to Japen Patel at long on and Bermuda’s top scorer was out for 27 to make it 79 for 5 in the 11th.
Abhimanyu Rajp took three wickets in five balls to accelerate the Bermuda tailspin. First to go in the sequence was Jones for 14, caught at deep midwicket by Jamali on the fourth ball of the 12th. Rajp opened the 14th over with wickets on back-to-back deliveries. Tre Manders top edged a pull to Corns at point before Rodney Trott slogged to Patel at long off on his first ball to make it 98 for 8. Rain returned in the middle of the 17th over and the umpires took the players off for the final time at the end of the frame. The match was unable to get restarted by the 6:30 p.m. cutoff time and with the par D/L score 161, USA was declared the winners by 48 runs.
“I’m very happy for all the guys,” USA captain Orlando Baker said. “We came here on a mission and we came through and supported each other from the day we arrived in Florida. As you can see, we’re 7-0 and we’re looking forward to the next game to go 8-0.”
Image (above) - Steven Taylor finishes a lofted straight drive to come within one shot of his century. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Earlier in the day, USA brushed aside Bahamas with a 72-run win at the Central Broward Regional Park. USA won the toss and batted first, posting 187 for 4, their highest total of the week and second highest T20 score all-time for USA. Several players got starts but no one capitalized on them as Patel and Baker were co-top scorers with 32. The pair featured in USA’s highest partnership of the innings, 65 for the third wicket to set up USA’s big total.
Bahamas made a confident start to their chase as Marc Taylor and Julio Jemison constructed the largest partnership by any of USA’s opponents this tournament, 62 runs for the first wicket in 8.3 overs. Bartley was the one to make the breakthrough for USA, getting Taylor to send Jamali a catch at long off for 30. Ryan Tappin was dismissed for a duck by Danial Ahmed six balls later and from there the Bahamas innings became unglued.
Jemison eventually finished 52 not out but the only other player besides the openers to cross double digits was Rudolph Fox at number eight with 13. Steven Taylor set the tone for his charmed day by recording a double-wicket maiden in the 20th over, his first over bowled of the tournament, as Bahamas finished on 115 for 8. Bartley was named Man of the Match after following his 25 not out with 2 for 21.
In the day’s other matches, Bermuda defeated Cayman Islands in the morning match at Brian Piccolo Park by four wickets. Suriname stumbled in the afternoon game at Central Broward Regional Park against Bahamas, who rebounded from the loss to USA by notching a six-wicket win.
Bermuda sits in second place at 4-2 after six games and can clinch the second available spot from the Americas for the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier with a win over Bahamas on Saturday morning. Suriname is still mathematically alive for second place at 2-4 but needs Bermuda to lose to the Bahamas on Saturday combined with Suriname wins over Cayman Islands on Saturday and Bermuda on Sunday. In addition to that, Suriname would also need to close the net run rate gap with Bermuda. Cayman Islands sit in last place at 1-5. Should they lose both their remaining games against Suriname and USA, they will be relegated to ICC Americas Division Two.
USA has Saturday off before their final game against Cayman Islands on Sunday. DreamCricket.com will have live coverage of the match, sponsored by New Inning Foundation, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“We’re here on a mission,” Baker said. “We’re 7-0 and we still got one more to go. Definitely we’re looking to go 8-0. We’re not easing up on no one. We’re not taking any team for granted.”