By Frederick Halley
TORONTO, Canada – After failing to attract crowds during its almost three-week staging, the Global T20 Canada climaxed in a blaze of glory at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club ground, King City, yesterday with a “full house” being treated to an enthralling contest between eventual winners Vancouver Knights and Cricket West Indies B.
Fittingly, the hero in Vancouver Knights seven-wicket victory was Canadian national player Saad Bin Zafar, who followed up his two for 25 with an attractive unbeaten 79 as his team conquered the youthful CWI B who had earlier defeated them in last Thursday’s high-scoring qualifying encounter, played at the same venue.
The left-handed Zafar entered the fray with Vancouver Knights in early trouble at 22 for three in the third over, following the dismissals of openers Chadwick Walton, captain Chris Gayle and Ben Dunk.
All three fell cheaply to outstanding catches; Walton taken at cover by Fabian Allen off Jeremiaah Louis; Gayle at mid-on by a diving Justin Greaves and Dunk also at cover by substitute Khary Pierre, the latter two off fast bowler Derval Green.
Any thoughts the CWI B had of winning the inaugural tournament and carting off the top prize of $500 000(US) were, however, dashed by a brilliant unbroken fourth wicket partnership of 126 between Zafar and South African, Rassie Van Der Dussen who was 44 not out when victory was achieved in 17.3 overs.
The pair started slowly with Zafar, who was surprisingly promoted in the batting order, growing in confidence and stature. Unleashing a series of classical strokes and with the backing of the partisan Canadian fans, Zafar looked fully composed as the CWI bowlers wilted under pressure for the first time in the tournament.
When victory was achieved, much to the delight of his teammates, Zafar had counted eight fours and three sixes in his man-of-the-match performance while Van Der Hussen supporting innings included three fours, the last one ensuring a resounding victory.
Green, who caused some early problems, finished with two for 20 from his three overs while Louis took one for 17 from two.
Earlier, Gayle had no hesitation in inserting CWI B, obviously bent on his team chasing this time around following last Thursday’s defeat which saw the Caribbean side winning off the final delivery in their high-scoring contest.
The decision payed handsome dividends as within the first five overs, CWI had slumped to 30 for three. Shamar Springer lost his middle stump to fast bowler Sheldon Cotterel off a delivery that kept appreciably low while the tall Jamaican also sent back Justin Greaves, caught at cover by Tim Southee in his second over. Brandon King also failed to impress, playing a loose shot to Jafar as the Caribbean sunk into further trouble.
Last Thursday’s hero, Sherfane Rutherford threatened briefly, hitting fellow Guyanese Steven Jacobs for successive sixes, but the latter had the last laugh as, in attempting to smash the off-spinner over long-on, the strongly-built left-hander skied a catch to Dunk and it was soon 51 for four in the seventh over.
Nichols Pooran also played a poor shot to Pakistan leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed to be bowled all over the place while skipper Anthony Bramble became Ahmed second victim, caught at midwicket for 15.
It took a cameo from Fabian Allen who walloped a top score of 41 from 23 deliveries to bring some respectability to the eventual total of 145 all out in 17.4 overs, a total that would prove inadequate in the end.
Allen spanked three fours and three sixes in his entertaining knock as Cotterel returned towards the end to snare two more victims to finish with the impressive figures of four for 29 from 3.4 overs. Ahmed took three for 24, Zafar two for 25 and Jacobs one for 14.