By Frederick Halley
TORONTO, Canada – Guyanese teenager Sherfane Rutherford fashioned a masterclass unbeaten 134 to lead Cricket West Indies B to an unlikely victory over pre-tournament favourites Vancouver Knights in the first qualifier of the inaugural Global T20 Canada which continued yesterday at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club ground, King City here.
The victory propelled CWI B into Sunday’s final at the same venue and a chance to play for the coveted US$500 000 winners’ prize and trophy.
Stuttering at 11 for three in the third over after being set a challenging 216 for victory, CWI romped home off the final delivery of the game, compliments to a thumping six over long-on from captain Anthony Bramble off left-arm spinner Saad bin Jafar.
Rutherford’s boundary-studded innings, which earned him the man-of-the-match award, included 10 sixes and 11 fours and almost singlehandedly swung the game CWI B’s way after the early inroads.
Opener Shamar Springer and his partner Justin Greaves who was returning from an injury, along with Brandon King, were sent packing in the first three overs with as fast bowlers Tim Southee and Sheldon Cottrell doing the damage.
Whatever hopes Vancouver Knights harboured of dismissing CWI B for a low score were however dashed by the brilliance of the left-handed Rutherford who found an ally in fellow left-handed Nicholas Pooran as the two set the ground alight with some scintillating strokes while staging a grand recovery.
By the time Pooran went, caught at long-on by Rassie Van Der Dussen for a fine 44 off 28 balls, CWI B were well on course for an improbable win. The pair added who came together in the third over added 130 for the fourth wicket with Pooran spanking four fours and two sixes.
There was no let-up from Rutherford who advanced to the first century of the tournament with successive sixes off Cottrell, celebrating the milestone in true Guyanese and West Indian style.
Bramble (23), who had failed to reach double figures in the tournament, played second fiddle to his Guyanese counterpart in an unbroken stand of 80 when victory was achieved much to the delight of other members of the squad who rushed unto the field to greet their heroes.
Southee was Vancouver Knights best bowler with two for 39 from his four Cottrell and Russell took one for 34 and 46 respectively.
Earlier, Chadwick Walton and a subdued Gayle had given Vancouver Knights a brilliant start of 73 in 5.3 overs before the former perished for a flamboyant 54, caught behind by Bramble off left-arm seamer Obed McKoy, a knock which contained five fours and four sixes off just 21 balls.
Seemingly intent on batting deep into the innings, Gayle mixed aggression with defence, reaching his second half-century of the tournament in the 16th over. In attempting to lift the tempo, Gayle held out to Springer at long-on, lashing four fours and three sixes from his 43-ball innings.
Cameos from Russell (29 not out from 16), Danza Hyatt (25 from 15) and 23 from Van Der Hussen ensured Vancouver Knights reached what seemed a winning score. Rutherford, however, had other ideas as he tore the opposition bowlers apart.
The stocky built Rutherford had earlier grabbed two for 25 to crown a fine all-round performance with his subtle medium pace bowling while Jeremiah Louis finished with two for 46.
Preliminary round winners Vancouver Knights will have another chance to qualify for Sunday’s final when they take on the winners of the second game which was being contested between Edmonton Royals and Winnipeg Hawks. The showdown is set for tomorrow from 15:00hrs.