USA rode on the back of a sizzling half-century from Aaron Jones (50 off 33) and a strong opening stand from captain Monank Patel and Steven Taylor to post a challenge of 173 runs. In a run chase where tempers flared high from both sides, it was the USA bowlers, led by Ali Khan and Ian Holland, who managed to hold their nerves to give USA a hard-fought 23-run win over Bermuda.
USA openers fly high in the powerplay
USA lost both the openers in the powerplay but not before blazing away with 57 runs on the board. With a flat wicket in the offing and big boundaries at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, it was imperative for USA openers to cash in on the power play. Steven Taylor marked off the proceedings with a powerful pull shot to the mid-wicket fence off Malachi Jones. Taylor further took Jones apart in his second over, crunching three consecutive boundaries. Monank Patel, on the other hand, kept timing the ball sweetly in the gaps, as he struck as many as six boundaries in his 30 off 16 balls before falling to a slower ball from Kamau Leverock.
Bermuda put the brakes on USA after Jones blitz
Aaron Jones pounced on the gentle offbreaks of Dion Stovell as he clubbed two consecutive deliveries over long on. Jones and Xavier Marshall didn’t allow the Bermuda spinners to settle down after the powerplay and propelled the USA innings forward as the pair put on 42 off 28 deliveries before Marshall holed out at deep midwicket.
USA looked on course to mount an ask upwards of 200 with the score at 123 for 3 at the end of the 13th over. After the fall of the big hitting Jaskaran Malhotra, Jones and Ian Holland went back to the hut in the same over. USA couldn’t lift themselves from the minor collapse as they scrapped their way to 172, managing only 35 in the last five overs. The USA lower order failed to tee off on a placid track with Bermuda pacers doing well to employ speed variations in their deliveries.
USA win the battle of powerplays
With the game firmly in the balance at the onset of Bermuda’s chase, USA put their nose ahead after restricting Bermuda to 34 for 2 at the end of the powerplay. Bermuda openers Allan Douglas and Tres Manders flayed initially, putting on 27 in the first three overs. With no swing on offer, USA entrusted Holland’s variations to get a breakthrough. Introduced in the fourth over, Holland broke the back of the Bermuda run chase with two wickets.
Rawlins and Manders threaten but Bermuda eventually succumb
Delray Rawlins and Manders consolidated for Bermuda after the twin setbacks, adding 20 runs in four overs. Rawlins started to cut loose upon the introduction of an out of form Karima Gore. Rawlins bludgeoned three boundaries in the Gore over to force him out of the attack. On a rampage, he smashed Saurabh Netravalkar for two massive hits over the long on fence. Manders too joined into the demolition act, plundering a 12 run over off Steven Taylor. Captain Monank Patel took a punt in introducing the golden arm of Nisarg Patel. Nisarg snared Rawlins after the latter went for one hit too many after heaving him for a boundary earlier in the over.
With 62 needed off 42, Bermuda looked to have the game in the pocket. Steven Taylor, however, had different ideas. Taylor got rid of the dangerous Manders and Kamau Leverock in the 14th over. USA bowlers applied the choke as the Bermuda lower order looked inept to counter the pace and death bowling prowess of USA led by Ali Khan. USA eventually held Bermuda to 149 to secure a hard fought 23 run victory.
Brief Scores: USA 172/10 in 20 overs (Aaron Jones 50; Kamau Leverock 4-28) beat Bermuda 149/8 in 20 overs (Tres Manders 49; Ian Holland 2-21)
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