Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar tried valiantly to get USA over the line, taking three wickets in his 10-over spell before striking 22 off 17 balls until he was the last man out in an 11-run loss to Windward Islands.
By Peter Della Penna in Tarouba (@PeterDellaPenna on Twitter)
An uncharacteristically poor fielding display from USA was epitomized by Keron Cottoy’s reprieve on 7 at deep midwicket as the allrounder went on to make a crucial 36 before taking 3 for 38 in another Man of the Match performance to down USA by 11 runs on DLS Method at Brian Lara Academy on Saturday night. USA fell just short of completing what would have been their third-highest successful chase in 50-over cricket as Xavier Marshall scored 79 in pursuit, but the target was made more difficult by the number of misfields USA committed along the ground during the first innings in addition to Marshall’s drop of Cottoy in the first half of play.
Windward Islands won the toss and elected to bat first under clear skies as USA made three changes to their lineup. Akshay Homraj, Nosthush Kenjige and Rusty Theron came back into the USA XI in place of Nisarg Patel, Timil Patel and Jessy Singh. After five relatively tight overs between Theron and captain Saurabh Netravalkar to start off the match, the pressure was released in the second half of the Powerplay as Devon Smith and Desron Maloney attacked to take Windwards from 18 to 66 for 0 at the 10-over mark. Smith slapped Netravalkar through mid-on and over midwicket for three consecutive fours in the sixth before Maloney crunched Karima Gore for two fours and a six in the seventh to get the Windwards innings into high gear.
Cameron Stevenson finally broke the partnership in the 11th, hustling Maloney with a short ball that was top-edged for Homraj to settle under behind the stumps for 31. Stevenson’s short-ball plan worked again to remove Smith for 45 in the 15th as a relentless length with deep square leg and deep fine leg put out for the pull finally resulted in a catch pulled to Steven Taylor at short midwicket to make it 83 for 2. USA’s third wicket with the short ball plan came off in the 24th as Netravalkar induced a false shot from Kavem Hodge where this time Stevenson was the one to pull off a sharp low catch at short midwicket in the ring for 21.
USA’s spinners struggled for effectiveness though on a flat pitch during the middle overs as Alick Athanaze and Emmanuel Stewart added 52 for the fourth wicket. Kenjige finally broke the stand with his penultimate ball on the night, inducing a drive against the turn that resulted in a thick edge to Theron at backward point to send off Athanaze for 40 to make it 170 for 4. Stewart fell four runs later for 29 to Theron, driving hard away from his body for a thick edge behind to Homraj.
Netravalkar put down a straightforward chance off Dillon Douglas in the 41st but redeemed himself a few balls later when Douglas drove again to the captain at long-on, who this time took a much more difficult chance leaping to his right for Gore’s only wicket to make it 193 for 6 in 41. But USA conceded 71 off the last nine overs as their fielding, which had been ragged along the ground for most of the night, proved especially costly in the air.
Stevenson induced a false flick from Cottoy on 7 early in the 44th over to Marshall, who was perfectly positioned for the chance at deep midwicket, but a simple waist height offering was shelled. Ryan John came on strike and proceeded to club the next two deliveries for four. After Netravalkar conceded 14 off the 45th, Stevenson looked like he had John dropped lbw for 23 in the 46th but a very strong appeal to a yorker length delivery was denied as Cottoy then slammed Stevenson straight for six later in what was a 15-run over to make it 242 for 6 with 24 balls left.
Theron replaced Stevenson for the 48th and along with Netravalkar helped wipe out the Windwards tail in the space of 10 balls to swing momentum back to USA at the death. John missed a slog aiming for midwicket and was bowled for 28 to break a 62-run stand before Netravalkar struck with a pair of yorkers in the 49th to bowl Bhaskar Yadram and Larry Edwards each for 2. Cottoy then drove Theron to Aaron Jones at long-off to end the innings with four balls left unused as Windwards lost their last four wickets for nine runs to end on 264.
Netravalkar ended with 3 for 60 in his 10 overs while Theron claimed 3 for 48 in 9.2 overs that included two maidens. Stevenson was luckless after his opening spell and ended with figures of 2 for 53 in seven, though he could easily have had two more wickets. Kenjige took 1 for 36 in 10 while Gore claimed 1 for 31 in seven. Taylor went wicketless to end with 0 for 34 in his six overs.
Shermon Lewis struck with his first deliveries in the second and fourth over for a pair of crucial blows to dent USA’s chase in the Powerplay. Monank Patel fended at a back of a length ball to be caught behind for 3 before Taylor chased a wide ball and toe-edged behind for 10 to make it 19 for 2. Marshall could have been the third victim for Lewis but the medium pacer spilled a difficult return chance one-handed to his right off a scorching drive from Marshall on 11 in the eighth over.
Marshall made use of the extra life to add 82 runs for the third wicket with Jones, by far USA’s largest partnership of the tournament and just their second half-century stand in Trinidad. Rain came in the 10th over, the third interruption of the night after two stoppages during the Windward innings, to shave one over off USA’s chase as the target was initially revised to 263 off 49 overs. Marshall drove Hodge’s left-arm spin for six earlier to get off the mark and then did it to Edwards’ left-arm spin again in the 21st to keep USA’s chase moving strong. Jones was efficient at the opposite end rotating the strike while also picking off a series of boundaries square of the wicket. After surviving a very strong lbw shout on 8, Jones finally fell leg before to Edwards prodding down the wrong line in the 23rd for 37, doubling his entire contribution on tour coming into the night.
After bringing up his half-century off 70 balls with a single in the 24th, Marshall drove another pair of straight sixes off Cottoy and Edwards in consecutive overs to keep USA firmly in the hunt at 123 for 3. But he could not find a willing ally to hang with him at the opposite end. Ian Holland’s poor tour with the bat continued as he fell attempting a sweep to Cottoy on a delivery that was far too full for the shot, struck on the back leg for a simple lbw decision to go for 5.
Another rain delay came one ball into the 31st over at 142 for 4 that lasted just under 15 minutes, long enough for three more overs to be lost and the target to be revised to 253 off 46 overs. On the first legal delivery after play resumed, Homraj was bowled missing a flick to Edwards for 12. Marshall finally fell on the last ball of the 34th, chasing after a very wide delivery from Cottoy that would have certainly been called an extra had it been left alone but instead wound up splicing it off the toe of the bat to long-off for an easy catch by Yadram as USA headed into the last 12 overs needing 90 runs with just three wickets in hand.
Stevenson was dismissed for just the second time on tour, top-edging a sweep off Cottoy’s next over to Douglas at deep square leg for 1. USA’s lackluster running between the wickets all night finally cost Gore his wicket to end the 39th. On what should have been a three to deep third man, Theron was slow responding and could only manage two runs to keep Gore on strike. On the next ball, Hodge darted in a quicker ball to defeat Gore’s charge for a stumping to end his knock for 23 making it 189 for 8.
Theron tried to make up for his running blunder with Gore by smashing a pair of sixes over the leg side in the 41st over off Hodge. Edwards dropped both Theron and Netravalkar at cow corner in the 43rd off Hodge on a pair of misjudged chances but finally got one to stick on the third ball of the over to send off Theron for 29, leaving USA’s last-wicket pair of Netravalkar and Kenjige to get 38 off 21 balls.
Netravalkar did his best, belting a six off Lewis straight down the ground in the 45th and heading into the final over USA needed 18 to win. A four over extra cover brought the equation down to 14 off four balls, but Yadram bowled a series of slower balls to keep the last pair off balance, the third of which resulted in a skied catch by Netravalkar to extra cover where Hodge took a catch to end the match.
Cottoy’s 3 for 38 in nine overs meant he took a total of 8 for 75 against USA in the pair of matches between the two sides at the tournament. Lewis ended with 2 for 43 in seven, Edwards 2 for 46 in 10 and Hodge 2 for 50 in nine. Yadram’s wicket at the death gave him end figures of 1 for 43 in 8.5 overs.
Though USA is now guaranteed to finish in last place in Zone B, they have a chance to play spoiler in their final match on Monday against Guyana. A win would deny Guyana a place in the semi-finals as they currently trail West Indies Emerging by two points. West Indies Emerging face Trinidad & Tobago at Queen’s Park Oval, needing a win, or a Guyana loss, to guarantee their place with the hosts in the semi-finals.