Speedboat XI, Floodlights crowned Guyana Softball Cup champs
By Avenash Ramzan
Speedboat XI pulled off a massive upset by dethroning defending champions Regal All-Stars to win the Open segment of Guyana Softball Cup 6, while Floodlights XI outplayed Fishermen XI to win the Masters category when action concluded on Monday morning at the Demerara Cricket Club ground, Queenstown.
While Floodlights had an easy passage to copping championship glory, Speedboat XI had the last laugh in a game that never really put forth a clear winner until a defining, match-winning partnership in the dying stages.
Batting first in the Open final, Regal All-Stars put up 172 all out in 19.5 overs, before Speedboat XI recovered from a top-order wobble to seal the win by five wickets with 10 deliveries to spare.
The margin of victory may seem comfortable at a glance, but it was quite the opposite as Speedboat XI had to stave off a spirited challenge from Regal All-Stars’ bowlers.
It took a daring, yet sensible batting effort from Wazir Hussain and Travis Drakes to dig Speedboat XI out of the duldrums at 100-5 in the 11th over and seal one of the most memorable upsets in Guyana Softball Cup history.
The left-handed Hussain, who goes by the alias “Small Man”, rose above that status and proved to be a “big man” on the night, shepherding the chase with a masterful, unbeaten 45, an innings that included five huge sixes. Not surprisingly, he was named Man-of-the-Match.
In partnership with the right-handed Drakes, the pair blazed 73 in seven overs in a stunning batting display that knocked the confidence and ego out of a usually boisterous Regal All-Stars unit.
With 21 needed off 18 balls, Regal All-Stars were still in contention had they picked up a wicket or two, but those aspirations were quickly shattered with the first two balls of the 18th over, as Drakes slammed two huge sixes off Delroy Perriera to bring the equation to more manageable proportions.
Drakes ended on 37 not out, an innings that included two sixes and two fours. Speedboat XI had earlier lost openers Lennox Marks (12) and Shazim Hussain (01), Safraz Karim (23), Amrit Rai (00) and Greg Singh (14) during a period of play dominated by Regal All-Stars.
Sent in to take first strike, Regal All-Stars lost opener Richard Latif via the run out route for five early in the innings, and though the recovered to post 94-3 by the 10th over, the next half of the innings yielded 78-7 as Kishore Smith put on a fine piece of bowling.
Smith claimed three wickets in the 12th over, all clean bowled, as Regal All-Stars stumbled from 109-3 to 111-6. However, Sachin Singh with a breezy 31 gave the innings some momentum in the death overs.
Extras topscored with 37 (20 wides), while Patrick Rooplall made 33 and Safraz Esau 20. Smith ended with 4-33, while Mark Harold, who proved difficult to score off, bagged 2-19.
The Masters final was much more straightforward, as Floodlights completely dominated proceedings. Inserted to take first strike, Fishermen XI managed 116-8 off the allotted 20 overs. Satrohan Seeraj topscored with 26, while Lionel Persaud made 18, Hackin Majeed 14 and skipper Jagdesh Persaud 13.
Bowling for Floodlights, Ramo Malone (2-8), Manoj Arjune (2-13) and Ramesh Narine (2-20) were the chief wicket-takers.
Floodlights were given a flying start by Uniss Yusuf, who cracked four fours and a six in 27, while Narine chipped in with 12, before skipper Ricky Deonarain and Malone sealed the win in 17.5 overs with just two wickets down.
Deonarain, who finished the game in style with a towering six over long-off, scored 39 not out (1×6, 2x4s), while Malone struck three fours in his unbeaten 24. Seeraj claimed both wickets, finishing with 2-19.
For his brilliant effort with bat and ball, coupled with a sensational catch in the outfield, Malone was named Man-of-the-Match. In the female exhibition games, Mike’s Wellwoman defeated Trophy Stall Angels in the final.
At the presentation, which followed the games, Speedboat XI collected the $800,000 first prize and Floodlights the $600,000 champion accolade, while they also received two massive trophies, compliments of the Trophy Stall.
For his two hundreds in the preliminary games, Jagdesh Persaud was named MVP of the Masters competition, while Amrit Rai for his hundred in the prelims received the award in the Open division. They both received a sparkling gold cricket bat pendant, accentuated with diamond studs, sponsored by Steve’s Jewellery.
The three-day competition, once again witnessed by another large final day crowd at the DCC ground, was sponsored by Stag Beer, Rubis Guyana, Trophy Stall, Survival Group of Business, Steve’s Jewellery, Clear Waters, Busta Soft Drinks, Rohan Auto Spares, A&R Jewanram Printery, WJ Enterprise and Mike’s Pharmacy, and organised by the Guyana Floodlights Softball Cricket Association.
Cover photo caption: Members of the Speedboat XI in a jubilant mood after being crowned Guyana Softball Cup champions on Monday morning (Photos: Avenash Ramzan)