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Chasing Trinidad and Tobago’s challenging score of 228 for nine in 50 overs which was built around Brian Lara’s majestic unbeaten 78, Guyana staged a marvellous fightback from 93 for six to reach 231 for nine off 49.5 overs and clinch a nail-biting victory with one ball to spare.
Debutant fast bowler Rayon Griffith struck West Indies leg-spinner Dinanath Ramnarine for two sixes over long-on in the final over of the match with 12 runs needed to give defending champions Guyana their ninth consecutive victory in regional One-Day cricket.
But it was Nagamootoo, who had put Guyana on course for an amazing victory with enterprising career-best regional One-Day knock of 63, studded with three sixes and three fours off 66 balls.
The left-handed Nagamootoo’s sparkling knock followed an economical spell of leg-spin bowling in Trinidad and Tobago’s innings when he captured three for 34 off his ten overs.
The match, the first regional limited overs contest between the teams since the rain-ruined No-Result at Bourda in October, 1998, was loaded with excitement, intrigue and drama, much to the enjoyment of the near 1 000 spectators, the largest crowd in attendance for the seven Zone matches so far.
Trinidad and Tobago had appeared to be cruising to victory when they reduced Guyana to 93 for six with all the specialist batsmen, including Test trio of captain Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh all back in the pavilion.
But a confident Nagamootoo inspired a fine rearguard action by Guyana.
First, he added 51 in ten overs for the seventh-wicket with Neil McGarrell, who made 14 and then, he joined forces with his younger brother Vishal Nagamootoo, who batted intelligently in an excellent supporting knock of 24, to gather 56 vital runs for the eighth-wicket in a mere 8.5 overs.
Nagamootoo began his onslaught on the Trinidad and Tobago bowlers when he struck rookie leg-spinner Samuel Badree for two sixes and a four in one over after hitting the same bowler for a six in his previous over.
But when the Nagamootoo brothers fell within a run of each other to leave Guyana on 201 for nine, Trinidad and Tobago prematurely started their victory celebrations.
However, Griffith (17 not out) and Reon King, who pulled Mervyn Dillon for a huge six over mid-wicket in his 13 not out, shared a match-winning last-wicket stand of 30 runs in 3.4 overs to add the last twist to a match of fluctuating fortunes.
The first twist came when Guyana made a disastrous start to their run-chase, losing opener Sewnarine Chattergoon to the very first delivery from Dillon.
When Marlon Black bowled Chanderpaul for four off the inside edge, Guyana were in early strife at seven for two.
The aggressive Leon Cush launched a counter-attack, hitting four fours and a six in a brisk 36 off 55 deliveries while adding 62 runs for the third-wicket with the sedate Sarwan, who made 26 with one four off 50 balls.
However, Guyana suffered a middle order collapse losing four wickets - Cush, Sarwan, Hooper, who made 10 and Narsingh Deonarine (6) for just 24 runs.
It was at that stage that Guyana were firmly staring defeat in the face but the bowlers and wicketkeeper Nagamootoo had other ideas, showing the batsmen that there were no terrors in the Trinidad and Tobago attack.
Earlier, Lara, given a reprieve on 56 when King dropped a return catch off the second ball of the last over with Trinidad and Tobago’s total 204-9, responded by smashing the same bowler for three huge sixes and a couple of twos as a whopping 24 runs were scored.
Apart from his three sixes, Lara also stroked three fours in his 93-ball knock after Trinidad and Tobago, sent in to bat, were given a rousing start of 78 in 17.5 overs by openers Andy Jackson (41) and captain Daren Ganga (28).
The left-handed Jackson mixed aggression with defence in a 60-ball knock, which included two fours and a six before he was the first of three wickets for Nagamootoo.
After Vishal Nagamootoo smartly stumped Ganga at 89-2 and Dwayne Bravo’s cameo 22 was ended when he skied a pull off Griffith to mid-on, Lara and Smith added 49 for the fourth-wicket.
Smith’s departure at 169-4 led to a middle and lower order collapse as the next five Trinidadian wickets fell for 35 runs.
Mahendra Nagamootoo engineered the slide by bowling young middle order batsmen Lendl Simmons and Badree for ducks with successive balls.
King then held a simple return catch to remove Ramnarine for 12 and after Dillon was run-out, sacrificing his wicket for Lara, who was left stranded in mid-wicket, Black was trapped leg-before-wicket without scoring.
But Lara, who was also mis-stumped by Vishal Nagamootoo on 43, took things in his own hands, making King rue dropping a return catch with two successive sixes, followed by another off the final ball of the innings.
However, King was to have the last laugh as he and his Guyana team-mates, who raced onto the field when Griffith dispatched Ramnarine for the winning six, savoured the sweet taste of victory.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO innings
D.Ganga stp. V.Nagamootoo b Sarwan 28
A.Jackson b Nagamootoo 41
D.Bravo c Deonarine b Griffith 22
B.Lara not out 78
R.Smith c Sarwan b Hooper 18
L.Simmons b Nagamootoo 0
S.Badree b Nagamootoo 0
D.Ramnarine c & b King 12
M.Dillon run-out 3
M.Black lbw b Cush 0
R.Sooklal not out 0
Extras: (lb-7, w-12, nb-7) 26
Total: (9 wickets, 50 overs) 228
Fall of wickets: 1-78, 2-89, 3-120, 4-169, 5-171, 6-171, 7-198, 8-2-3, 9-204.
Bowling: King 10-0-58-1 (w-4, nb-4), Griffith 7-1-37-1 (w-4), Nagamootoo 10-1-34-3, Hooper 10-1-41-1 (w-1, nb-3), McGarrell 10-1-41-0 (w-3), Sarwan 2-0-9-1, Cush 1-0-1-1.
S.Chattergoon c wkp. Simmons b Dillon 0
R.Sarwan c wkp. Simmons b Bravo 26
S.Chanderpaul b Black 4
L.Cush b Ramnarine 36
C.Hooper c Dillon b Sooklal 10
N.Deonarine c wkp. Simmons b Bravo 6
N.McGarrell b Black 14
M.Nagamootoo c Lara b Ramnarine 63
V.Nagamootoo c Ganga b Dillon 24
R.Griffith not out 17
R.King not out 13
Extras: (lb-3, w-10, nb-5) 18
Total: (9 wickets, 49.5 overs) 231
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-7, 3-69, 4-77, 5-90, 6-93, 7-144, 8-200, 9-201.
Bowling: Dillon 8-0-44-2 (w-1, nb-1), Black 10-0-44-2 (w-1, nb-2), Ramnarine 8.5-0-42-2 (w-3), Sooklal 10-2-28-1 (w-1, nb-2), Bravo 7-0-25-2 (w-4), Badree 6-0-45-0.
Result: Guyana won by one wicket.
Points: Guyana 2, Trinidad and Tobago 0.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove & Lawrence Thomas.