By James Persaud
Omesh Ganesh took one wicket in his first spell and returned for a second spell in the second half and created mayhem for the Guyana All Stars batsmen. He grabbed three wickets in his second spell to send Guyana reeling. Bobby Pahalad took two wickets early as NYSCL All Stars replied and Ramesh Barran shocked the league team as the late order batsmen crumple, claiming two for 12 in a spell of four and half over.

Victorious New York Softball All-Stars with awards.

The levels of softball cricket displayed in the NYSCL eighth annual Independence Cup was at the highest standard and certainly had to be the best final so far. After the Guyana All Stars skipper Vijay Seonarine called the toss correct and took the crease first with a fair sized crowd on hand and still coming. The NYSCL All Stars skipper Andrew Gonsalves set a very defensive field as the inform Amar Singh and Dinesh Pooran took the crease.

Shawn Persaud was given the new ball and he bowled a very good first over, only allowing one run. Dharampaul Singh shared the new ball and in his first over one run was scored. Singh and Pooran looked solid as they played very defensive as both opening bowlers was fast and bowling good line and length. Amar Singh took his chances, not wanting to be tied down too long and struck Persaud to deep mid on. Pooran Beria moving to his right was able to get his fingers on the ball but failed to hold on and the ball crossed the ropes for the first boundary of the game.

In the fifth over bowled by Shawn Persaud, a slower rising ball Singh pulled to deep mid wicket and this time the fielder was Eon Ellis who made no mistake and took the catch for the first out. With the score on 1 for 15 the new batsman was Raja Parsram, Parsram and Pooran would stay together for the next four overs. After seven overs a bowling change was made with Omesh Ganesh, Ganesh a young tall lanky lad struck immediately, his third delivery beat the defense of Pooran and he was on his way to the pavilion, bowled for six.

The ninth over was bowled by Javid Ali, his first over and he bowled Parsram for 9, the new batsman was Guyana All Stars skipper Vijay Seonarine to join Vicky Subkaran. This partnership did not last long, two overs later Subkaran was magnificently caught for 3 of the bowling of Ali and the score was 4 for 34. Karan Ganesh joined his skipper at the crease and the two would see their team to the water break without any further damage and a total of 47 runs.

By this time the crowd had built up to a very sizable one, well into the thousands. Depending on which team you were rooting for, if it was for the guys in the maroon and gold this side was very loud or the blue and gold who was somewhat quiet. The ball by ball announcer Onkar Singh kept the large crowd updated about the game, and the score board was operated by Jay Ram. Between overs the live deejay would play sweet chutney and reggae and as the music blared across the park young people can be seen gyrating and moving to the beats. The more mature people in the crowd, lovers and supporter of softball cricket would sit and sip on cold beverages and reminisce on their past playing days.

When play resumed Shawn Persaud picked up the bowling against Seonarine and Ganesh, for the next three over this pair bat very carefully and looked set to build a sizable score. But this was not to be as in the sixteenth over a mix up between the batsmen running, Ganesh backing up too far and a good throw from Omesh Ganesh at mid on found Karan Ganesh short of his crease. This was a very big blow to the Guyana side. Ganesh was batting well stroking the ball finding the gaps and ran well until his down fall; the score was on 4 for 63.

Bobby Pahalad joined his skipper at the crease and three runs later Seonarine was out caught of Shawn Persaud for 13. Manoj Sukhra joined Pahalad, Pahalad who was looking good as he struck a huge six and a four to bring some life to the crowd. Omesh Ganesh was brought back into the attack and the young lad was in devastating form, he had Sukhra caught for 4 and Pahalad went the same way for 15.

This brought Ramesh Barran and Jai Sanichar together, in Ganesh’s next over Barran took a single of the first ball, the second ball Sanichar sent well over the ropes for six and two ball later Barran was out caught for 2. The last man in was Frankie Baichoo, with Baichoo and Sanichar at the crease, two very good hard hitting batsman the crowd was expecting to be entertained. But this was not be in the twenty third over bowled by Dharampaul Singh, Sanichar hit the first ball to the ropes for four and two balls later he was out caught  for 12 to bring the Guyana innings to an end for a total of 104 all out, Baichoo did not get off the mark.

The flamboyant Pooran Beria and Prashad Mahadeo took the crease for NYSCL All Stars and Seonarine gave the ball to Jai Sanichar. One run was scored of the first over; Bobby Pahalad bowled the second over and two runs came off. The team’s supporters on both sides were quiet as the ball by ball announcer talked about the intensity surrounding the park. The lady selling the ice in the park was complaining that she was running low on ice, she wondered if it was because of the sun or the pressure from the game.

Any lover of cricket would tell you it was pressure from the game, after two overs and only three runs, Mahadeo tried to get aggressive. Seonarine immediately made field adjustments, knowing that Mahadeo likes the reserve sweep. Mahadeo challenged Sanichar, he went for the sweep, the ball went straight to the fielder who took the catch and Mahadeo was out for a duck.

Michael Rangasami, the new batsman got off the mark two balls later, the new over was bowled by Pahalad who was very fired up and bowled very fast. Pooran Beria was caught of the third ball of the over for 3. Andrew Gonsalves strides to the crease and get a loud roar from the crowd. It was important that Gonsalves stay at the crease for a long time, the bowling was on top, and Guyana was defending their target to the end. In Pahalad third over, Rangasami playing very defensive and the third ball beat his defense and he lost his middle stump, he made one run and the score was on 3 for 15.

Brain Manniram joined his skipper at the crease, NYSCL All Stars needed this pair to stay and put runs on the board. The run rate after eight overs was below three, so far no boundary was struck in the innings, the crowd was on edge, and the game was evenly balanced. Manniram a good left handed batsman was playing in his first game of the tournament after being absent for two days to welcome the birth of his new baby on Friday morning.

The first boundary of the innings came in the tenth over, Manniram and Gonsalves had many mid wicket conferences as they dug in and bat with resilience against very good bowling, Guyana only used four bowlers in the first half and the score was 3 for 51.

When play resumed after the water break, Manniram and Gonsalves batted very patiently finding the gaps and picked up singles and doubles. This pair stayed together for the next 14 overs and put on a valuable 70 runs fourth wicket partnership. When Gonsalves was out with the score on 85, still needing 20 runs for victory, the NYSCL All Stars camp was convinced that it was over.

Well Guyana was not giving up and stayed and gave it their best to the end, the new batsman was Eon Ellis. Manniram was batting solid playing good shots but failed to find the boundary on a very fast out field and very good fielding. Ellis and Manniram added 8 runs before Manniram went for a big shot and was caught for 32 of the bowling of Barran. Barran continued to bowl and in the same over Ellis was stumped and gone for 1 run. Erapalli Sahadeo was run out without scoring in the same twenty third over, three wickets down and only one run added.

The crowd was quiet and could not believe what they were looking at, the Guyana tent was buzzing in glory they were back in the game. The new batsman Javid Ali played two reserve sweeps and scored doubles of the bowling of Sukhra and two balls later Ali loss his leg stump, bowled for 4. Dharampaul Singh and Shawn Persaud scored five runs in the twenty fourth over to tie the game. Guyana made some fielding mistakes in the twenty fourth over, causing the batsmen to cross when the ball was over thrown. But the pressure was on as both batsmen were prepared to run and ran very fast between the wickets.

It was the final over of the game, Barran was given the ball in his last over and the score was tie. The batsman facing was Shawn Persaud and the batsman still to come was Omesh Ganesh. NYSCL All Stars tent was empty everyone was at the edge of the boundary. First ball to Persaud, he pushed straight back to the bowler and second ball he did the same. The talk around the park at this time was would we be seeing a Super Over, NYSCL All Stars wanted no part of this and wanted the game to end in regulation time.

They scream and yell to Persaud to try something different; this he did with the third ball just an easy push to short extra cover and the batsmen scamper through for a single. It was not easy had the fielder throw hit the stump at the bowler’s end Persaud could have being in some trouble. It was time for a celebration as the entire NYSCL All Stars camp ran onto the field to congratulate Dharampaul and Shawn. It was a nail biting finish, NYSCL All Stars won with three balls to spare.

Soon after the presentation was done and Amar Singh of Guyana All Stars won for the most runs in the tournament and highest individual score, Bobby Pahalad won for taking the most wickets in the tournament. Shawn Persaud of NYSCL All Stars took the prize for the best bowling in a match, Omesh Ganesh grabbed to the finals man of the match prize. There was a special for the man of the match offer by Mike Bansi, and which Bansi delivered to Ganesh, Andrew Gonsalves took the most valuable player of the tournament prize.

Vijay Seonarine received the second place trophy for his Guyana All Stars, and Andrew Gonsalves took away the Eagle and some cash incentives for the winners.  It was two very organized tournaments, the Independence Cup and Legends Cup 2012. I must say kudos to the NYSCL tournaments organizing committee and volunteers for doing fine work. A special thanks to all the sponsors for getting on board and without your assistance this would not have being as easy.