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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
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USA’s Fahad Babar scored 58 not out off 45 balls as USA chased down Bermuda’s first innings total of 93 for 8 with 22 balls to spare to record an 8-wicket win in the first of three Twenty20 practice matches this weekend at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, Florida. Babar shook off the initial nerves of opening the chase, he scored just 2 runs off his first 12 deliveries, to accelerate swiftly following the dismissals of Steven Taylor and Steve Massiah in the ninth over to take USA across the target with ease.
Bermuda won the toss and elected to bat first, eventually using 12 players in the bat 11, bowl 11 practice game. USA used just 11 players on the day with Orlando Baker serving as captain for the match along with seven other veterans – Massiah, Taylor, Akeem Dodson, Muhammad Ghous, Neil McGarrell, Danial Ahmed and Karan Ganesh – as well as three players – Babar, Adam Sanford and Srinivasa Santhanam – who are in line to make their official USA senior team debuts at the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier next month in the UAE.
Dion Stovell built a solid foundation for Bermuda at the top of the order, taking them to 51 for 2 after 10 overs. Stovell top scored with 48 off 46 balls, but the rest of the batting lineup floundered with no one else crossing double digits in the innings. The only other players to even reach the boundary in Bermuda’s innings were Christopher Douglas, with a four in the fifth over before being bowled by Ahmed for 7, and Bermuda captain Janeiro Tucker, who struck Bermuda’s only six in the 12th over before being dismissed on the very next ball by Ganesh to make it 59 for 3.
Former West Indies Test bowler Sanford opened the bowling for USA with seven runs in the first over, then produced a maiden in the third before coming back at the death in the 17th and 19th overs to claim a pair of wickets, Stovell caught by Ahmed to make it 79 for 5 and Malachi Jones bowled for 7 to make it 85 for 7. Sanford finished with 2 for 14 in four overs while the other former West Indies Test bowler, McGarrell, claimed 2 for 7 off three overs including the key wicket of former Bermuda captain David Hemp for 4 and Kwame Tucker for 5.
Image (right) - Neil McGarrell (file photo) finished with USA's best bowling figures on the day, claiming 2 for 7 in three overs vs. Bermuda. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Off-spinner Ghous claimed 1 for 23 in his four overs while part-time spinner Ganesh bowled out his maximum allotment to take 2 for 20. Santhanam opened the bowling with Sanford for USA and was the only bowler to go wicketless, conceding 11 runs in his only over of medium pace.
Taylor opened the chase with Babar and the teenage left-hander struck just one boundary in his 21 off 29 balls before falling to a return catch by Stovell to make it 37 for 1. Former USA captain Massiah came in at number three and lasted just two balls before he was caught by Tre Manders off Stovell for 1 in the same over. Santhanam entered and teamed with Babar to produce a 56-run unbeaten stand to end the game. Babar brought up his 50 in 44 balls with his fifth four to end the 16th, then finished the match two balls later in the 16th with his third six. Santhanam ended 13 not out off 22 balls.
Stovell finished a solid all-round performance with 2 for 21 in four overs. Jones bowled a tight spell of seam to finish with 0 for 8 in three overs while Tucker had 0 for 5 in two overs. Derrick Brangman was the most expensive bowler for Bermuda, finishing with 0 for 29 in four overs after opening the bowling.
USA and Bermuda will continue their Twenty20 practice match series on Saturday at Brian Piccolo Park. The starting time is tentatively set for 2 p.m.