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Lara, Gayle, Rashad Electrify All Star Weekend

By Orin Davidson

Spurts of brilliant batting, bowling and lots of autograph signing helped make a fabulous weekend for cricket fans around New York and beyond, when triple world record holder Brian Lara – the West Indies captain brought his Caribbean All Stars to the Big Apple for their two promotional games against the United States All Stars at Floyd Bennett Park in Brooklyn last Saturday and Sunday.

Lara ensured the fans did not show up only to have his autographs and those of his West Indies team mates as he capped the weekend with a whirlwind innings of 70 runs to lead his team to a six-wicket victory in the second game on Sunday after they won the first encounter by five runs on Saturday.

The series also was a revelation for young New Jersey batsman Rashard Marshall who recorded the highest score of the weekend, an electrifying 90 in the first game, that raised his profile several notches in cricket circles around the country.

Pugnacious West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle also stamped his authority on the proceedings with the third fastest score of the weekend in the second game. Batting at number six, he crashed 62 runs off only 31 balls, including six sixes and four fours to seal the victory on Sunday as Caribbean All Stars rattled up 237 runs for four wickets in 30 of their allotted 40 overs, in reply to United States All Stars’ 234-7. Lara who opened the batting struck 70 in 40 balls, before he was stumped off Sudesh Dhaniram, better known for his opening batting, back in the 1980s. Darren Ganga contributed 46 while Shivnarine Chanderpaul made 21 not out. Star batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, who topscored the previous day, allowed his mates to redeem themselves and did not bat.

When United States All Stars started the match their innings was highlighted by a topscore of 43 by Carl Wright in 31 balls. Richard Staple, coming in at number eight clobbered the friendly spin of West Indies wicketkeeper Dinesh Ramdin and Rawle Lewis in particular, for a savage 40 off 24 balls including three sixes and one four. Orlando Baker compiled 35, but did not help his team’s cause much, taking up way too much time. Dhaniram contributed 27 and captain Steve Massiah 22. Marshall quite shockingly was not promoted in the order and only got the chance to contribute 9 runs. Lewis took two wickets for 35 runs, Sarwan 2-2-28 and Ian Bradshaw 2-33.

On Saturday Sarwan earned the honors by hitting 70 to lead the Caribbean All Stars to 214-6 in the 40 overs. Lara made 36, Gayle 23 and Chanderpaul 19. Paceman Imran Iwan worked up a steady steam to take 3-39 off six overs, but was surprisingly not picked for Game Two, while Mike Alexis had 2-31.

United States All Stars replied with 209-6 mainly due to Marshall’s assault which only lasted 56 balls and included seven fours and three sixes. Bradshaw took 2-18 and Corey Collymore 2-9. Marshall won the Man of the Match award.

The star studded Caribbean All stars team was more troubled by frenzied autograph seeking fans than a the United States All Stars side in winning the first game which was reduced to 40 overs, for unexplained reasons. Sarwan stole the show in the first half with an exciting 71 to lead the visitors to a comfortable five-run victory.

Fresh off a scintillating display against highly ranked India in which he averaged 91 in the recent five-match ODI series, Sarwan, now rated number world number two in ODIs scored his runs off 83 balls hitting five fours.

Lara batted well for 36, striking two fours and a six after taking some time to adjust to the matting covered pitch, before he was spectacularly caught on the long on boundary by Alexis.

Gayle never got started on the unfamiliar pitch and contributed 23 before he got out the familiar way, edging to the wicketkeeper Ken Baugh, a relative of the West Indies gloveman Carlton Baugh.

Darren Ganga laboured to 17 before being bowled by Alexis for 17 while Shivnarine Chanderpaul had his stumps shattered by Iwan after prodding around for 21.

Dwayne Smith struck a dazzling cameo, blasting three fours and a six before he was also beaten by Iwan’s raw pace and bowled for 19. Dinesh Ramdin hit one four in six and was left not out on six with Wavell Hinds 0 at the end.

The Pakistan-born Iwan ended with three wickets, but was the most expensive U.S. bowler going for 39 runs off his six overs. Alexis had 2-31 while former Guyana paceman Kevin Darlington who opened the attack went wicketless for 45 off eight overs.

Marshall’s hurricane 90 was well supported by captain Steve Massiah also came good with a patient 59.

Marshall, Eastern Conference’s leading scorer this year, hammered seven fours and three sixes as Lara used his spinners most of the game after the pacemen proved unplayable to the U.S. top order, which badly missed Lennox Cush, who passed up the games to represent Guyana in the Standford 20/20 series.

Corey Collymore, Ian Bradshaw and Fidel Edwards helped reduce the home team to 42-4 at one stage, failing in the process West Indian opener Devon Smith who appeared as a guest player.

Lara even bowled himself in the final over when the U.S. needed 14 to win and claimed Massiah’s wicket as the batsmen went after the target.

The U.S. fans among a crowd of around 6000, many meeting the West Indies stars for the first time, mobbed the players at every opportunity and some even ran onto the field on several occasions with play in progress for autographs. Marshall won the Man-of-the Match award.
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