Navin Param’s unbeaten 71 gives Singapore victory in final-over thriller

Cricket

Singapore 152 for 5 (Param 72*) beat Bermuda 149 for 7 (Tucker 50*, Prakash 3-44) by five wickets

On the opening day of tournament play, Singapore won a thriller by defending seven off the final over against Scotland. Tasked with scoring nine in the last over against Bermuda, they only needed three deliveries to clinch another dramatic affair in Dubai. Navin Param was the hero with his unbeaten 72 off 41 balls.

Param entered with Singapore in serious trouble at 41 for 4 in the ninth over chasing a target of 150 after Bermuda grabbed momentum thanks to a pair of stunning one-handed catches in the space of nine deliveries. Aritra Dutta’s cut off Rodney Trott was intercepted by a salmon leap by Kamau Leverock at backward point before 44-year-old Janeiro Tucker knifed a scorching drive in his follow-through to dismiss Singapore’s star batsman Tim David.

But Param and Manpreet Singh kept their cool to construct a 79-run stand. After scoring 11 off his first 12 deliveries, Param started to open up against Malachin Jones in the 13th over, scooping him over fine leg to the boundary. It became his go-to shot throughout the chase, contributing to a chunk of his seven fours and four sixes. It also forced a costly mental error from Bermuda.

With 30 needed off the final three overs, Manpreet was done in as he charged at Bermuda captain Dion Stovell and the game was back in the balance.

Only, after a single by Janak Prakash put Param on strike on 48, Stovell moved Rodney Trott from backward point to backward square leg when there was already a deep backward square and short fine leg in place. The next ball was reverse swept through the newly created gap on the off side for four to bring up Param’s 31-ball fifty. The umpires finally caught on to the field in the subsequent delivery and called a no-ball- teams can’t have three fielders behind square on the leg side – and Param whacked the free hit straight down the ground for another four.

A misguided slower bouncer from Leverock was flat-batted for a straight six by Param in the 19th over before the bowler overstepping gave Singapore one more bonus run. On strike to start the final over against medium pacer George O’Brien, Param executed one more scoop for six over fine leg. A single put Prakash on strike, who ended the match with a straight drive over the now crowded infield for four.

The match-clinching boundary capped a brilliant day for Prakash. Having been hit in the head by a Kyle Coetzer drive two days ago, he took the field again with his head bandaged up and took three wickets in the final overs.

Bermuda started the day with a maiden after choosing to bat at the toss and played out two more scoreless overs later in the innings as they struggled to get singles around their ability to clear the ropes. The ageless Tucker lifted Bermuda out of early trouble with an unbeaten 50 off 34 balls at No. 5. Combined with his one-handed catch to claim David, it looked like enough to galvanise Bermuda to victory before Param’s heroics stole the show.

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