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By Neto Baptiste

Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) Bethesda Golden Eagles grabbed the final spot in the final round of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) 10 Splash Cricket Tournament in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night, edging an aggressive Empire Nation on the “count back” rule after scores at the end of their match, played at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, were tied at 78.

This meant that officials were left with no other option but to enforce the “count back” rule which allowed them to consider the amount of runs scored by each team in the 10th over of their innings. The team scoring the most runs are declared winners.

It was Eagles that soared high on this occasion as they would have scored six runs in their final over while Empire would have only scored four.

The defeat was Empire’s second on the “count back” rule after having lost to Pigotts Crushers in similar fashion last week.

The win, however, means that Bethesda joins New Winthorpes, who had earlier advanced at the top of Zone Two, as the two teams headed into the second and final round of the tournament.

Captain of the Bethesda team, Deran Benta, said it was strategic to have one of their most experienced bowlers in Anthony “Iroots” Martin, execute the final over.

“We talked about it and that’s why Devon Thomas suggested to me that Iroots should bowl the last over because nobody had been scoring good against him. In the end, we really didn’t have to do much because they bowled a lot more extras than us, which helped us too, so we didn’t have to do much,” he said. 

Batting first, Empire was led by Justin Athanaze who made 31 from 17 deliveries, while Tyrone Williams Jr chipped in with 26.

Bethesda was led, in their chase, by Essan Warner who top-scored with 25 off 28 deliveries while Devon Thomas was not out on 15 from 17 balls.

In Wednesday’s’ opening clash, New Winthorpes Lions made light work of Bolans Blasters to win by 91 runs and cruise into the next round.

Batting first, Lions posted 137 for 2 in their allotment of 10 overs. Jamaual Fernandez led the charge with quick fire half century, slamming five sixes and three fours on his way to 58 from just 26 deliveries. He was assisted by Shavon Moore who made 24 from 12 balls as they both batted not out.

Bolans were then limited to just 46 runs in their 10 overs, losing five wickets in the process. Deshawn Henry was the pick of the bowlers for New Winthorpes, claiming three wickets for just eight runs in two overs.

President of the cricket association, Leon Rodney, urged fans to continue supporting the tournament as he expects and exciting climax.

“We just want to remind the public that it is now $10 to come into the matches, so please still come out and support your teams. We are anticipating excitement all the way through but I don’t think that any of the teams are going to let up. I think it is going to be some very tight matches,” he said.

New Winthorpes Lions and Bethesda Golden Eagles join PIC Liberta Blackhawks and Rising Sun Spartans in the final round of the tournament.