By Orin Davidson
This time they fully lived up to their title.
Bedessee Destroyers produced a masterful display on Sunday to annihilate Strikers and cart off the New Upscale Twenty20 title Sunday at Whitestone Park in the Bronx.
The final was as lopsided as you can get as Strikers was pounded by a rampant Destroyers batting lineup that carried them to a nine-wicket victory in the eight-team competition.
An exhilarating batting performance from Desmond Bennett was mainly responsible for the destruction of Strikers who were no match for Destroyers in all aspects of the game except fielding.
In the process Destroyers avenged their loss to Strikers in the Sam’s Foods tournament final five weeks ago, and maintained their impressive T20 record since being formed last year.
Strikers were missing some key players including left arm swing bowler Adil Ali and Samad, who after helping their team reach the final in the semi-finals, could not stay for the final later in the day.
However, even if they were available it was difficult imagining the missing players containing the powerful Destroyers top order as they pummeled Strikers from the get- go.
Bennett, carved up the attack as Destroyers raced to 176 runs for one wicket from a mere 14.1 overs in reply to Strikers’ 175-7. Bennett ended 76 not out from a mere 40 balls. He struck nine fours and three sixes and shared a century second wicket partnership with Akeem Dodson who rattled up a quick fire 46 from just 29 balls that included six fours and one six.
It was after Andrew Gonsalves initiated the carnage by spanking 38 from 20 balls.
Gonsalves and Bennett slammed 33 runs from the first two overs that left Strikers in such disarray their captain Adil Khan used five bowlers for the first five overs.
Even the normally tight Sudesh Dhaniram who opened the bowling with his off-spin was bludgeoned for 16 in which Gonsalves heaved two sixes and ended up scoring all but four runs off the two overs.
Gonsalves later said he targeted Dhaniram specifically, for undisclosed reasons. When the former Guyana first class opening batsman was eventually brilliantly caught on the midwicket boundary from a flat hit that would’ve otherwise sailed over the rope for his fourth six, Dodson immediately followed suit with the assault.
Bennett, displaying uncanny timing never let up with his punishing strokes around the ground and it reached a staged where the Strikers were so demoralized, they refused to field balls in the outfield as their chances rapidly began to evaporate.
Bennett’s scintillating range of stroke play is likeable to a player of top class, and it was not surprising to learn he played at the highest level in Jamaica. The right hander said he measured up favorably to the likes of fearsome test pacemen Patrick Patterson and Courtney Walsh in their heyday in the 1990s. But when he refused to curb his attacking approach at the behest of Jamaica coach Rohan Kanhai at the time, a potential career in the Jamaica team was cut down. Earlier in the day Bennett slammed 65 off Yonkers Eagles in the semi-finals and was later duly awarded the Man of the Series award.
Dodson, who by any sane reasoning should’ve been with the United States team , as wicketkeeper /batsman, currently competing in the Americas competition in Bermuda, did not allow the injustice to affect him. He was a contender for the top prize after slapping 64 in the first round on Saturday and had he played in the semifinal, could’ve been a serious rival to Bennett, such was his supreme form over the weekend.
When they batted Strikers batsmen threatened with good starts but none managed to sustain a pivotal innings. Nevertheless, their 175 was a challenging target by any T20 standard which was helped by hopeless Destroyers catching who grassed at least six catches.
Shabazz Ahmed, who assaulted Destroyers in the Sam’s Foods final, seemed poised for another match- winning innings, but after striking two sixes, was eventually catch for 18. Eventually, Waheed Akthar topscored with a brisk 30 from 20 balls, Vijai Seonarine got 29 and F. Sultan 25. Akhtar and Seonarine put together a decent second wicket partnership but once the impressive Dwayne Smith entered the fray with his leg spin, the game was up for Strikers. Smith, unlike his West Indian namesake is a wily leg spinner even in the shortest form of the game. He ended with one wicket but saw four catches go a-begging. Barrington Bartley captured 3-26 and Tain Walters 2-33
And when one sees the likes of Smith, who is also a good batsman and effective fielder, not being considered for the U.S. team you can understand why it always struggle in overseas competition. Talent is being wasted from that team and Smith is one on top of the list.
In the semifinals, Destroyers crushed Eagles by 70 runs as the former side amassed 191-4 in their 20 overs, due primarily to Bennett’s half century and 38 and 34 by Ron Andrews and Gonsalves respectively. Adna Ahmed took 2-26 for Eagles who were restricted to 121-9. Shazid Ahmed topscored with 38 and Shazad Khan 27. Smith was in wicked form, bagging 3-11 in his four overs and Mahadeo Seepersad had 2-38.
Strikers hammered Pak America by 45 runs in the other semi-final with Akthar leading the way with 43 in their score of 200-6. Seonarine complied 38. Exciting young allrounder Hunain Munir took two wickets as well as Alizar for Pak America who were restricted to 155 in 18.2 overs. Munir made 41. Dhaniram had 3-38, Mohamed Nadir 2-20 and Shahad Ahmed 2-30.
Destroyers will pocket $3000 and the New Upscale trophy.