By Sean Devers (Kaieteur News)
East Coast started the Diamond Fire & General Insurance Company sponsored Demerara Cricket Board (DCB) Inter-Association Under-19 50-over campaign with a four-wicket win over defending Champions West Demerara at the GCC ground, Bourda yesterday.
Led by an accomplished 76 by diminutive 16-year-old right-hander Ronaldo Renee and an attractive 43 from Malcome Hubbard, West Demerara piled up a challenging 225-8 off their allotted 50 overs.
East Coast left-hander Rudolph Singh responded with a compact 97 in a Man-of-the-Match performance to spearhead his team to 226-4 off 48 overs. Ramnarine Chetura, a 15 year-old right-hander, supported with an even half-century to set up the win.
West Demerara won the toss and elected to bat on a slightly heavy outfield and a pitch which had nothing in it for the bowlers. A small but vocal crowd saw the first wicket fall at 6-1 when Keshram Seyhodan (6) was run out.
Skipper Travis Persaud (11) and Renee, one of nine players in the West side unit with national youth cricket experience, took the score to 43 in steaming heat before off-spinner Satish Jainarine, whose action looked suspect, removed the talented Persaud.
It was 64-3 when left-arm spinner Irfan Alli got rid of Chiatnarine Pooran (7) before Renee and Malcolm Hubbard who made a brisk 43 played several enterprising shots as putting together 66 for the third wicket.
Renee stroked the ball sweetly and reached his half-century with his eighth four, courtesy of a glorious square drive past point. His 50 came from 60 balls but when 24 short of his ton, he pulled a long hop from Alli straight to backward square to leave at 130-4.
Hubbard and Navindra Persaud took the score to 167 with a well put together 37-run stand before off-spinner Vivian Albert bowled Hubbard and Persaud (23) run out at 185-6. Daniel Basdeo (5) then ran past Brian Sattaur, who also trapped Avinash Dhaniram LBW for a duck with his innocuous off-spin as three wickets tumbled for one run.
Kevin Paul (25*) and Kelvin Sewpersaud (14*) then added 37 in their unfinished stand as Alli (2-37) and Sattaur (2-30) were the most successful bowlers for East Coast.
When East Coast began their reply the dangerous Sattaur savagely cut Paul for four but like he has done so often ,he was found guilty of hitting the ball too much in the air and was taken at deep mid-off for six in the first over to leave East Coast on 6-1. Deoraj Chunilall (14) edged Dhaniram to the keeper and East Coast had slipped to 45-2.
Singh then launched a vicious attack on the hapless bowlers with the teenager, who overcame a shaky start, caressing Paul for two delightful boundaries before disdainfully pulling the pacer for six into the Kenny Wishart stand when he bowled short in his second spell.
Singh smashed Dhaniram for two fours which reached the boundary like bullets before he jumped into Looknaught and dumped him for consecutive sixes, the second one landing on Regent Street. Chetura played a great supporting role but both batsmen seemed to be nervous as they approached their landmarks and the scoring rate took a significant dip.
When three away from what would have been his first century at any level, he was stupendously caught at long-on by Navindra Persaud who pulled off a stunner, diving full length forward, as Looknauth broke the 134-run stand and left the score on 173-3.
Chetura, a 15-year-old Mahacony student, soon reached his 50 but an injudicious shot at a wide from Hubbard ended his innings stumped. East Coast had lost their pair of set batsmen in the space of 13 runs to leave them on 186-4 and West Demerara’s hopes of a sensational victory was still alive.
However, Vishwanauth Ramlakan (24*) and Albert (18) kept their heads and their wickets to see East Coast to safety.
Representatives from Diamond Fire and General Insurance Inc. met the teams prior to the start of the competition.
Diamond Fire and General Insurance Inc. Accountant, Rabindra Budhai, told the players that they have been supporting youth cricket in Berbice and other parts of the county over the years, and they are happy to join the DCB this year.
Budhai urged the players to give their best and be competitive, and respect the game and each other. He further added that he and other Diamond Fire and General Insurance Inc personnel will be following the competition keenly, charging the players to make their teams and the sponsor proud.
Vice-President of the DCB, Anand Sanasie thanked the sponsors for their interest in the development of youth cricket. He assured them that they will get value for their investment.