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By Orin Davidson
July 4th, 2008
New York cricketers have been challenged to alleviate bad memories of the recent past and they responded with an emphatic response yesterday.

Dennis Evans

Barrington Bartley

Kester Sylvester

Taking full advantage of the home advantage that allowed them the right to accommodating fixtures and choice conditions, New York hammered Connecticut (North East Region) in their opening match of the Eastern Conference playoffs of the National championships, Friday in the Big Apple.

Defending champions New Jersey (Atlantic Region) kicked off their campaign with a less stellar performance, but notched a victory nevertheless over Florida (South East) to stay on course for a showdown with New York on Sunday to likely to determine the Conference champions.

Spearheaded by dominating batting from their openers, New York thumped Connecticut, the weakest of the four teams, by 10 wickets at Idlewild Park in Queens to launch a campaign to regain the title they lost in embarrassing fashion in 2007 and 2006.

Kester Sylvester and Dennis Evans put the opposition bowlers to the sword with an unbroken century partnership that left Connecticut wondering when they become more than just opponents for the stronger team in the annual competition.

Sylvester, the former Windward Islands first class batsman struck a flashy 68 while his partner Evans stayed with him to the end with 59 to knock off a meager 142 target put up by the opposition.

It was after spinner Barrington Bartley cut through Connecticut’s lower order to bag five wickets for 21 runs to leave the latter team unable to do no better than 140 runs all out.

Bartley bamboozled the batsmen with his flight and spin to force repeated catches from the last five batsmen in the deep, that the New York fielders had no difficulty in accepting.

Earlier medium pacer Dennison Thomas put the skids on the top order to capture two wickets for 18 runs that pressured Connecticut from the beginning as the slid began from the time the first wicket fell at 31.

Paceman Imran Iwan, in his debut game for New York, after representing New Jersey since the competition started five years ago, took 1-26 and left arm spinner Kumar Nandalall 1-28, maintained the pressure as Connecticut struggled throughout, finding it impossible to post any useful partnership.

Stanford Twenty20 star Lennox Cush did not take any wickets but his stifling off spin added to the opposition’s misery, ending with 0-21.

Sharaz Baksh was the lone Connecticut batsman to prove his worth, scoring a well made 44 in the circumstances with five fours and one six, batting in the middle. Nikhel Thapar contributed 21 for the second highest score.

The match was reduced to 45 overs from the original 50, but Sylvester and Evans started like they wanted to end it in 20, especially the former who went on the attack from the get go.

He struck a number aerial boundaries that were too much for the limited fielders as the runs flowed non stop. And when Evans plastered one shot to the backward point boundary, New York were already finished formulating their plans for the next games against Florida on Saturday and New Jersey on Sunday.

If it were a points race to the title, New York surely took pole position as New Jersey endured greater resistant in putting away Florida by four wickets at the Floyd Bennett Field.

Florida posted 172 runs all out in 41.2 overs to which the defending champions lost six wickets in overcoming.

Star batsman Rashard Marshall led the scoring for New Jersey with 69 with Roopnarine Gowkarran chipping in with 31 as they reached 177-6 in 30.2 overs.

Anand Tummala bowled his heart out for splendid returns of five wickets for 37 runs but his Florida batsmen had already rendered his performance futile. Identical scores of 32 recorded by Ken Singh and Japen Patel was the topscore.

Nasir Islam and David Walton were mainly responsible for restricting Florida, bagging 2-29 and 2-17 respectively. Former West Indies left arm spinner Neil McGarrell brought his experience into contention with tight support.

Florida will seek better fortunes when they take on New York at Idlewild Park Saturday with New Jersey remaining at Floyd Bennett Park to face Connecticut.
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