Demerara retain U-19 Inter-county title

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By Avenash Ramzan

A splendid all-round display from Ronaldo Ali-Mohamed highlighted a clinical performance from defending champions Demerara on Friday when the 50-over version of the Guyana Cricket Board’s Hand-in-Hand Mutual Fire and Life Insurance Inter-county, Under-19 competition culminated at the National Stadium, Providence.

Facing up to the National Under-17 squad in the championship game, Demerara, under the leadership of First-Class player Bhaskar Yadram, won by six wickets to successfully defend their title in blistering sunshine, a stark contrast to what the Hydromet Office predicted a day earlier.

Demerara won the toss and opted to bowl first at the country’s lone international cricket venue, and the Under-17s seemed to be on course to putting up a decent total at 54-2 in the 18th over before they suffered a dramatic collapse. A sprinkling of spectators witnessed the tumbling of eight wickets for just 76 runs, as Demerara seized the initiative at the halfway stage of the match.

Though they managed to bat as many as 48.4 overs, the Under-17s found scoring difficult, which was a direct result of losing wickets regularly. From a position of 54-2, they were never going to be satisfied with 130 and one could safely bet on coach Orin Bailey having a few harsh words at the innings break.

They hardly managed to stitch together a partnership of significance; 21 for the fourth wicket between Kevlon Anderson and Kevin Christian was the highest. The extremely talented Anderson was one of two batsmen to pass 20, stroking his way to a topscore of 38, batting at number four. National youth player Sachin Singh chipped in with 24 at the top, but contributions from the others were miniscule at best.

Man-of-the-Match Ronaldo Ali-Mohamed receives his trophy from Match Referee Grantley Culbard

Yadram, taking the new ball with his bustling medium-pace, bagged 4-37 off 9.4 overs, while leg-spinner Richie Loaknauth was outstanding, claiming 3-20 off 10 overs, six of which were maidens. Ali-Mohamed was also economical, claiming 2-23 from nine overs.

Chasing small targets can sometimes be tricky, and the powerful Demerara batting line-up was jolted a few times before Ali-Mohamed stamped his authority on proceedings, diminishing any hope the Under-17s had of becoming the first National team to win an Inter-county title.

Yadram and third round centurion Raymond Perez started positively, but once the bowlers found their line and length scoring opportunities dried up. As dot balls began to increase, Perez attempted an ugly slug at left-arm spinner Ashmead Nedd, but luckily for him found the slippery hands of Nigel Deodat at mid-on.

His luck ran out shortly after, caught for 13, driving on the up off Gevon Shultz at 36-1. Without addition to the score, Yadram feathered a catch to the wicketkeeper, playing away from his body to a delivery from Shultz. He made 19.  

Joshua Persaud (8) and Gavin Boodwah (18) then stuck around for a while, before Nedd removed both as Demerara slipped to 77-4. Ali-Mohamed and Ramnarine Chatura then closed out the match, adding an unbroken partnership of 55.  

Ali-Mohamed struck seven fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 53 off 55 balls, his fifty coming off a crisp square cut for four to seal the win. Chatura, content on being the subordinate in the partnership, finished on 16 off 32. 

The fact that he batted with such freedom and conviction on a wicket that all others struggled, Ali-Mohamed was duly named Man-of-the-Match.

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