NORTH SOUND—Leon Johnson marked his debut in the shortest version of the game on Monday, with a vital, unbeaten 37, helping Guyana overcome the mambo-jambo that almost kept them out of this Caribbean Twenty20 tournament, and leading them to a five-wicket victory over Leeward Islands. Johnson struck two fours and two sixes from 32 balls, as the Amazon Conquerors, as they are also known, put the dispute about the running of the affairs of the game back home behind them to successfully chase down 135 for victory in the second match of the tournament at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. The left-hander was fortunate on 11, when makeshift ‘keeper Jahmar Hamilton muffed a run-out chance, and remained to share a vital 46 for the fifth wicket with his captain Christopher Barnwell that put the Guyanese firmly on course for victory, after they wobbled to 69 for four.
Johnson earned the Man-of-the-Match award, after he formalised the result, lofting Lionel Baker over wide long-off for six.
The victory was the perfect way for the two-time regional T20 champions to start the tournament, after their participation looked in jeopardy, when the Guyana Cricket Board said last week it could not field a side for the tournament and the West Indies Cricket Board had moved to select a West Indies B-Team. Leewards chose to bat and got into difficulty on 99 for six in the 18th over before Justin Athanaze hit three sixes in the top score of 30 not out from just 15 balls, giving them a competitive 134 for six from their allocation of 20 overs. Sewnarine Chattergoon launched the innings with a crisp cut through backward point for four before he was caught at mid-wicket off Athanaze’s off-spin in the fifth over. Shivnarine Chanderpaul marked his return to national colours with consecutive sixes from his first two deliveries off Athanaze, but two balls later, Trevon Griffith was run out for six.
Chanderpaul struck two sixes over long-on in the first over of left-arm spinner Jason Campbell before he was caught for 30 in the ninth over. Fellow left-hander Narsingh Deonarine soon followed, caught behind for 15 but Johnson joined Barnwell and they batted with crisp assurance, striking boundaries in between nifty running between the wickets. Barnwell tilted the balance of power in his side’s favour with a six over deep backward square leg off Athanaze that eased the equation before leg-spinner Anthony Martin, his opposite number, bowled him for 21 in the 18th over, leaving Johnson and Royston Crandon to chip away at the remaining 19 from the last 15 balls.
LEEWARD ISLANDS 134 for 6 off 20 overs (Justin Athanaze 30 not out, Devon Thomas 26, Kieran Powell 22)
GUYANA 139 for 5 off 19.2 overs (Leon Johnson 37 not out, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 30, Christopher Barnwell 21)