By Ravendra Madholall
KING CITY , Ontario -The inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament climaxed on Sunday at the Maple Leaf ground here with Vancouver Knights beating West Indies ‘B’ by a fascinating seven-wicket margin with 15 deliveries to spare.
West Indies ‘B’ were sent into bat on a responsive pitch and only managed a modest 145 all out in 17.4 overs while Vancouver Knights replied with 148-3 in the 18th over.
Their victory was orchestrated by a responsible, unbeaten 79 from Canada player Saad Bin Zafar while the left-hander also collaborated with South African He Van der Dussen (44*) to score an impressive unbroken 126-run fifth-wicket stand.
The pair joined forces after their team was in a precarious position at 22-3 in the third over, losing the wicket of skipper and pugnacious opener Chris Gayle for two and his opening partner Chadwick Walton for four.
Soon after Ben Dunk followed for 11, taken by substitute fielder Khary Pierre at cover-point off pacer Darval Green. The West Indies ‘B’ came into the six-team tournament as ‘Underdogs’ but played superbly to win four matches in succession and then featured in the championship contest.
Their fielding was excellent and the level of enthusiasm was great as the Vancouver Knights found themselves in serious trouble. However, Zafar batted purposefully while Dussen showed good application as well. They brought up the fifty in the seventh over and continued to rotate the strike admirably in front of a 7,000-capacity crowd.
Zafar hit eight fours and three sixes during his 48-ball stay at the crease while Dussen reached the boundary on three occasions. Green finished with the best figure of 2-21 from three overs.
West Indies ‘B’ started their innings with the loss of openers Justin Greaves (16) and Shamar Springer (10) in quick time while Brandon King lost his wicket for three runs . Sherfane Rutherford, who hit a scintillating 134 not out in the first qualifier match against the same opponents, failed to reproduce that innings as he was taken for 14.
The score was 53/5, when Nicholas Pooran (8) was out first ball bowled by Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, missing an attempted pull shot.
Fabian Allen in partnership with Windies ‘ B’ captain Anthony Bramble (16) and Kavem Hodge (14) attempted a comeback, but it was not enough as Windies’ B’ were bowled out for 145 runs.
Left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell, who made the initial breakthrough, finished with four for 29 runs from 3.4 overs while leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed collected three wickets for 24 runs from four overs and Zafar complemented a fine all-round performance by supporting with two wickets, bowling left-arm spin. Zafar was named man-of-the-match.
At the presentation ceremony just after the completion of the 18-day tournament, the victorious side pocketed US$500, 000 and a silver trophy while West Indies ‘B’ received US$250, 000.
“This was surreal. It was a bit intimidating to play under Gayle because I’m a big fan and 10 years ago I took a picture with him,” said Zafar. “But he’s been a supportive captain. He trusted me and gave me responsibility and I’m glad to make a contribution today (Sunday) in this final,” Zafar remarked.
Gayle also spoke about his team’s triumph. stating that the side was very cohesive from the commencement of the tournament and was delighted to lift the first trophy.
“Saad’s job was to consolidate the innings for us, but he actually brought it home. Everyone played a role for us in this tournament and I’m very happy with Saad’s performance in the final,” said Gayle at the post-match press conference.