By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Unbeaten Cavaliers withstood their biggest test of the season to win their first BVI Cricket Association Twenty 20 League title in four years and fifth overall, by fending off Royal Knights’ charge for a thrilling seven run victory on Sunday Greenland.
In completing their unbeaten season and meeting their goal of winning the title, Cavaliers used Royston Duggin’s crucial five wickets haul to repel their opponent, after they posted a 209 target for 2014 champs Royal Knights to chase.
“We wanted this tournament badly, we’ve got the team but always beat ourselves and Royal Knights pushed us and there are some good teams, but especially today, but we came out champions,” Cavaliers manager Vishal Bharat said. “I have to give credit to the guys. They’re the champions.”
Mohammed Hassan and Teddy Nankashore gave Cavaliers a decent start with a 48 opening run partnership, before Hassan was bowled by Slowley for four, the first of his three wickets. Nankashore was the second wicket to fall after a steady 39 as Cavaliers stumbled to 100 for 5. Two batters later, Toney came in and with Baker, put on 108 run partnership for the sixth wicket, guiding them to a decent 208.
Toney, who’s batting has been off since his 87 not out to start the tournament against Royal Knights, found his groove again with a timely 88 not out, while Baker was run out for 30. Following Baker’s departure, Slowley clean bowled Dhanpaul Chrisnanand for a duck and Ryan Mangal also went for a duck, off Slowley’s bowling, caught by Yudesh Shivparasad. Slowley bagged 3 for 37.
Royal Knights stumbled out the gate as Jagnarine “Sugar” Persaud grabbed the first two wickets for 11 runs including Mangal for a duck.
Captain Richie Fredericks came in and together with Jomel LeFleur, put them back in the game with a 51 run third wicket stand, before LeFleur was dismissed for 22. Fredericks who had a rollercoaster season, sprayed the short field with nine sixes and four boundaries, most of which came in a 69 run fourth wicket partnership with Slowley, who resisted for 25.
Fredericks who was the first of Duggin’s five wickets was caught by Chrisanand at mid wicket for 73. But Royal Knights kept fighting and Duggin kept on his wicket tear to take 5 for 41, before Vivian Fredericks lobbed a ball go Gopaul Boodram at mid on to Royal Knights’ chase at 201, sending Cavaliers players and fans into a frenzied celebration of their fifth title.
“They put pressure on us in the batting, we crumbled a bit in the middle, but Drumor (Toney) and (Aaron) Baker’s partnership towards the end, especially Drumor, brought us to 209 which is a good score on this slow wicket,” Bharat said. “But, those guys, Richie (Fredericks) and LaFleur kind of took the game away from us in the batting, with (Anthony) Slowley as well. After 10 overs, were in the driver’s seat but I know we have the fire power. We are 80 to win off the last 10 overs and I told my guys, there’s no team in the BVI can make that if we bowl properly. And the guys did bowl properly. We took all our chances and we won.”
Royal Knights manager Gordon French congratulated Cavaliers on the victory. “What an exciting finish. They played the entire tournament without losing a game, but in the finals, I think we challenged them today,” French said. “In the end, we came up short, but, it was a good team effort. No one expected us to be here in the final. We were counted out after being on the brink of elimination, but we beat defending champions Vincy. We fought back Road Town Wholesale, another strong team and made it to the final. Unfortunately we came up short but we’ll be back next year looking to win again.”
In Division I, Vikings beat Under The Tree by 11 runs, after posting 165 then restricting their opponent to 154. Vikings who were demoted from the Premier League, that year, will return to the league in 2017.