The curtain came down on the inaugural NCB Challenge Trophy T-20 cricket competition over the weekend with exciting semifinal and finals games at the Smith Road and Jimmy Powell ovals.
Jamaica ran out as winners, and Deno McInnis won the tournament MVP.
The first semifinal at the Smith Road oval brought together old rivals Cayman Islands and tournament favorite Jamaica. On a damp pitch, Cayman Islands captain Ricardo Roach asked Jamaica to bat in a game reduced to 17 overs. Jamaica found the going tough, and with 8 overs gone, Jamaica only had 34 runs without loss on the board. Some lower-order batting muscled Jamaica to a modest total of 87 for 4 off their allotted 17 overs.
Deno McInnis toiled to top scorer with 23 for Jamaica. For Cayman, Kervin Ebanks and Gregory Smith each got 1 wicket for 23 and 22, respectively. In their reply, Cayman Islands got off to a respectable start, putting 38 for 1 wicket after 8 overs. Zachary McLaughlin played some elegant shots and eventually was top scorer with 32. However, after he departed, wickets steadily fell, dropping Cayman to 64 for 5 in 14. With Cayman needing 22 from 3 overs for a place in the finals, Alessandro Morris was controversially run out via the Mankad route by Paul Manning for backing up too far. This decision clearly unsettled the Cayman Islands batsmen, and eventually the overs ran out with them on 69 for 7. Corey Cato was the pick of the Jamaica bowlers with 2 wickets for 12 runs of his 4 overs. Jamaica won by 18 runs to advance to the final.
In semifinal two at the Jimmy Powell oval, Guyana, which was not fancied, took on unbeaten World Stars. Guyana batted first and posted a modest total of 87 in their 20 overs, with Kevon Basil getting 21. World Stars’s innings got off to a rocky start and they were quickly 16 runs for 4 wickets, mainly due to some tight bowling from Neil Coley and Alistair Ifill. Kevon Basil came back with the ball to take 2 wickets for 8 runs off his 4 overs in a man-of-the-match performance. World Stars were eventually all out for 69, giving Guyana the win by 18 runs to advance to the final.
In the final at the Smith Road oval, Jamaica took on Guyana in front of a huge crowd. Jamaica won the toss and batted first, smashing their way to 156 for 4 in their 20 overs. Deno McInnis stroked a masterful 56 with 5 huge sixes. Paul Manning chipped in with 26, and Conroy Wright, 22. Alistair Ifill was the pick of the Guyana bowlers, getting 1 wicket for 19 runs.
In Guyana’s turn at bat, they were never allowed to settle by a Jamaica attack that ran through their batting lineup. Guyana was reduced to 38 runs for 6 wickets within 7 overs and the game was all but over. Kevon Basil tried to mount a rearguard action with a top score of 18. For Jamaica, Paul Manning topped off a man-of-the-final performance with best bowling figures of 3 wickets for 19 off his 4 overs. Jamaica ran out as winners of the NCB Challenge Trophy by 86 runs.