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By Royo P.Sankar
Richmond Hill Cricket Club (RHCC) stormed into the final of the Eastern American Cricket Association (EACA) T20 tournament with seven wickets and nail-biting victory over their Elite 8 final nemesis, Big Apple Cricket Club (BACC).
Led by Wahid Ward (pictured right) who can bat, but also has the capability to tear an attack at will. His team needed someone to fire if they were going to make it to the grand finale and he would answer their heed by letting the opposition know and looked imperious during his onslaught, smashing a breathtaking unbeaten 141 from 62 balls that were peppered with 14 blistering fours and 9 massive sixes—in the process registering his first ton for the season and left the Big Apple bowlers in disarray and permanently scared.
It was a thrilling spectacle that had the RHCC camp and supporters cheering wildly and nonstop. In their pursuit of 225 at 11.75 an over, RHCC lost prolific batsman Sudesh Dhaniram in the second over, but a second wicket partnership of 136 from 66 balls between Wahid Ward and Debo 'Sachin' Sankar was the bedrock in their chase, and made it look ridiculously easy. More so, stupendous— in the process left a gaping hole in the center core of the Big Apple attack that failed to contain a determined top order. It was a see-saw and nerve raking battle that had not only the players involved, but the hundreds of cricket lovers witnessing the event at the edge of their seats.
Earlier, BACC skipper Zaheer Saffie called correctly at the coin flip and had no problem batting first under overcast condition and proved to everyone his decision was a correct one with immense 235 off their allotted 20 overs . West Indies U-19 batsman Richard Ramdeen smashed a superb century as he and Romeno Deane (19) plunder 53 in 4 overs providing a searing start in their opening stand.
Ramdeen dominated that partnership when he creamed Dhaniram first over for 16,that went for 20, then carved consecutive sixes, inside out from the next, before skipper Shameer Sadloo promptly removed him from the attack. Deane ran himself out going for a quick second run. However, Zaheer Saffie joined Ramdeen and the pair quickly took the score to 137 in the 12th.With both batsmen tearing away at the RHCC un-penetrative bowling attack. Saffie later fell, stroking a quick-fire 47 from 23 balls (4x4s,3x6s).
Ramdeen continued the onslaught on RHCC bowlers and bought-up his century going for a quick double, raising his bat, high in the air to a cheering Big Apple camp and supporters. He then smashed Shameer Sadloo for 5 scorching boundaries in his third over before Wahid Ward had him caught for a stroke-filled and spectacular 122 form 56 balls (16x4s,5x6s) with the scorecard on 175 in the 15th over. Andre Rusty Kirton stayed briefly for 9 , while Clain Williams and Thelston Johnson were left unbeaten on 22 and 10 respectively in their final total of 235.
BACC wicket fell at: 52 (R.Deane), 137 (Z.Saffie), 175 (A.Kirton) and 216 (R.Ramdeen). The RHCC bowling figures: S.Dhaniram 2-0-38-0 , R.Bactowar 4-0-41-1 ,Z.Sadloo 4-0-54-0 ,S.Sadloo 4-0-46-0 ,K.Nandalall 4-0-33-1 and W.Ward 2-0-20-1.
In their chase of 235 at almost 12 an over,RHCC suffered a early set back when Sudesh Dhaniram(5) flicked Thelston Johnson full toss straight to R.Ramdeen fielding at long-leg with the score on 5 as the BACC players began to celebrate wildly across the field as if the game was over. Not so fast, Forget it! Debo Sankar partnered Wahid Ward at the center, as the duo stunned the BACC bowlers and everyone watching with scintillating stroke-play and fireworks aplenty. Raining sixes and fours filled the atmosphere, as the Baisley Pond Park was burning runs with Big Apple feeling the brunt of the heat with Wahid Ward and Debo Sankar on fire.
The duo were always with the daunting run rate of 12 an over with Debo providing the early tempo in their partnership— smoking 4x4s and 4x6s in his 55 from 30 balls before he was given a dubious run out decision that most spectators believed needed the third umpire. With the scorecard reading 141 in the 13th over and a further 94 required from 42 balls . Shameer Sadloo coming in at number 4 joined Wahid Ward at the crease as the match suddenly entered into turbo-gear. With Ward continuing to mow-down the target to bits and pieces. He clubbed Andre Rusty Kirton 3rd over for 2 massive sixes then followed up that by mowing 2 more that went very far, beyond the boundary, this time the bowler was Thelston Johnson. Shameer Sadloo then get into the act , carving consecutive sixes off Zaheer Saffie's 3rd over and taking the score to224 in the 19thover.
With 12 required for victory in the final over the match was heading for a nail-biting finish. Andre Rusty Kirton was entrusted with the ball hoping for a BACC victory. However, that was easier said than done as Wahid Ward smoked his first delivery through long-off for 4, then followed up that with another in the same direction, this time a couple of bounces into the fence.4 balls remaining and 5 runs required, everyone on their feet. The 3rd delivery Ward pulled through mid-wicket for a couple then swung at the next, but only got a single. 2 balls remaining, 1 run for victory. Shameer then hit a full toss straight back into the hands of Kirton. Deryck McDonald then strode to the wicket with 1 ball and 1 run for victory, he thumped the final ball straight down the ground for a boundary as the RHCC supporters and players invaded the field, celebrating wildly.
RHCC wickets fell at : 5 (S.Dhaniram), 141(D.Sankar) , 235 (S.Sadloo)
Bowling BACC : A.Kirton 4-0-48-1, T.Johnson 4-0-29-1, S.Raghubar 1-0-17-0, M.Gomes 3-0-32-0, N.Balram 4-0-39-0, R.Ramdeen 1-0-12-0 and Z.Saffie 3-0-42-0.