It was a fairytale ending to the 2019 Hand-in-Hand Under-19 Inter-County One-Day tournament, with Demerara getting the final laugh with a five-wicket win in the grand finale at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground at Bourda.
Watched by some vocal supporters mostly from Demerara, Berbice displayed an ordinary batting effort when they were restricted to 115 all out. The hosts, Demerara, achieved their target in 27.5 overs, ending on 116-5.
The double defending champions, Berbice, won the toss and elected to bat first on a slow-turner. They lost Alex Algoo early when he was out caught for four by Sachin Singh off the bowling of Joel Spooner. His fellow opener Junior Sinclair also fell for a single-digit score when he edged one to wicket-keeper Yeudistir Persaud off Qumar Torrington.
With Berbice at 17-2, Demerara took control of the match, but a third-wicket partnership of 38 between Kevlon Anderson and Deonauth Persaud swung the momentum back in the Berbicians’ favour. However, West Indies U-19 player Ashmead Nedd put an end to the promising partnership when he removed Persaud for 14, caught by Torrington in the field.
Nedd continued to show his class with the ball when he got his opposite number, West Indies U-19 teammate Anderson. Arguably the most prolific youth batsman in the country, Anderson looked in good touch; but soon after hitting a six, he was adjudged leg-before for 33 from 65 balls, including one four and one six off the bowling of Nedd.
With Berbice at 64-4, Demerara opted for torque induction, as only one of the final seven batsmen for Berbice made it to double figures. Demerara got the final seven wickets for a mere 51 runs, with Seon Glasgow being left stranded at the crease for an unbeaten 21 off 38 balls as he watched his team crumble to 115 all out in 38.3 overs.
Left-arm spinner Daniel Mootoo was the star with the ball, taking 4-32 in 9.3 overs. He was well backed up by his fellow spinners Spooner and Nedd, who had two wickets each.
In response, Demerara had a solid start despite the loss of Robin Williams (04). Sachin Singh had come to the party, and he displayed some powerful shots at Bourda. Berbice began proceedings on the wrong note, as they failed to follow the spin-trend, the pacers Leon Swamy and Anderson leaking 21 runs in two overs.
Singh played the shot of the day when he hit Swamy out of the ground and into Regent Street. The West Indies U-19 selectee bullied his way into the runs chart after being dropped in the previous match.
His return to duty for Demerara literally took the game away from the opposition with a counter-attacking 48 from 42 balls, which included four sixes and two fours before he was outfoxed by the brilliance of Nigel Deodat when he was out caught.
The stabilizer, Alphius Bookie, anchored the innings with a responsible 30, but was dismissed on the brink of Demerara’s victory at 106-5. Andrew Samaroo sealed the match with a boundary through mid-wicket. He scored an unbeaten seven while skipper Nedd scored 10 to ensure his team a championship victory with the score on 116-5 in 27.5 overs.
Kelvin Umroa, who finished the tournaments as the leading wicket-taker with 31 wickets, had 2-35, while the gifted Deodat had 2-19 in a losing effort.
Hand-in-Hand, the insurance giants, among other executives of Cricket Guyana Inc. (CGI), hailed the tournament a success. Junior Sinclair was awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP), and he also copped the award for the most runs with 374 runs, edging Alex Algoo who was in contention. Kelvin Umroa finished with the most wickets, edging Joel Spooner in the wickets’ race.
Berbice won the three-day title earlier at Lusignan, but failed to achieve the double. The captain, Kevlon Anderson, was satisfied with his team’s performances throughout the tournament, but he revealed that the batting let the team down in the final. Anderson stated that the game was lost when Sachin Singh scored those invaluable 40-odd runs.
Meanwhile, Demerara captain Ashmead Nedd was delighted with his team’s effort. He stated that Berbice had defeated them twice in this tournament, but it is a good feeling to win the important match. Nedd, who is a sure selection for the Guyana U-19 Team, was happy to win a championship in his final year at junior cricket.