Liberta Blackhawks and Empire Nation victories set up Two Day cricket final

Liberta Blackhawks’ Avier Christian bats during his team’s second innings in Liberta. Christian contributed with 53 from 67 balls. Larry Joseph was the pick of the bowlers for Pythons with three for 50 in 15 overs (Photos by Johnny JnoBaptiste)
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By Neto Baptiste 

PIC Liberta Blackhawks and Empire Nation will play in the championship match for the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association’s (ABCA) Two Day title following first innings triumphs over their respective opponents in last weekend’s semifinals stage.

Playing at home against All Saints Pythons, Blackhawks were propelled by a good all-round performance from West Indies and Leeward Islands spinner, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Walsh slammed nine fours and two sixes to rack up 78 runs in 86 deliveries and lift Blackhawks to 250 all out, following a slow start that at one point saw then wobbling at 72 for three. Joshua Thomas also contributed with the bat, adding 49 from 123 balls, while Michael Greaves made 40.

Larry Joseph was the pick of the bowlers for Pythons with three for 50 in 15 overs while T’ron Payne and Demetri Lucas both had two wickets.

Walsh then worked his magic with the ball, claiming three wickets for 16 runs in just 6.3 overs as Pythons were restricted to 102 all out. Javy Benjamin (2/24), Elvis Weaver (2/31) and Kofi James (2/25) also had good spells with the ball for Blackhawk.

Batting a second time, Blackhawks were 353 for eight when play ended on the second and final day of the contest.

Walsh Jr again led the batting with 83 from 53 deliveries which included 10 fours and three sixes. James slammed 12 fours and one six for his 69 off 47 balls, Avier Christian contributed with 53 from 67 balls and Amahl Nathaniel made 44 from 48.

Jewel Andrew picked up three wickets for 71 runs in 15 overs and Justin Robinson snatched two for 62 both bowling for Pythons.

Walsh said he was happy to have been able to play a leadership role in the fairly young Blackhawks squad.

“That’s why I was selected just to oversee the youngsters so that if they fall down to just pick up things and once we had that base to express ourselves, I just told the guys to just go out and express yourselves and be positive. At one point, we were 100 and something for five or six so and I think we ended up making 250 and that was a really good total,” he said.  

In the other semifinal clash, Empire Nation ended the hopes of defending champions, Pigotts Crushers, of winning back-to-back titles.

Playing at the King George V Ground, Empire Nation won on first innings to leap into next weekend’s final.

Sent to bat by the home team, Crushers were restricted to just 157 all out in their first innings, with Rolston Phillip making 48 from 31 deliveries. He hit six fours and three sixes. Justin Athanaze was the pick of the bowlers for the home team with five for 43 in 19 overs, while Micah McKenzie bagged four for 32 in 11.4 overs.

When their turn at the crease arrived, Empire reached 267 for three in 55 overs before play was stopped after Crushers reportedly refused to continue to the fixture.

Athanaze, while speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, said winning the toss was a key part in Empire’s success.

“Me and the coach spoke about the toss and once we won the toss we would put them in and try to restrict them for under 200, and we knew that once we get that first innings that we would have just batted through and until we were ready to call off the game,” the veteran player said.

A venue for the final will be announced this week.

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