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Stars take advantage of weakened opponents

Hammer blow: Jason Lowe hits a six off the final ball of the Stars innings at Southampton Oval (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Southampton Oval (Western Stars won toss): Western Stars beat Southampton Rangers by 55 runs

Newly-promoted Western Stars made it two league wins from two with a 55-run victory against an understrength Southampton Rangers at Southampton Oval in the Premier Division yesterday.

Stars won the toss and batted first, setting a competitive total of 197 for eight from their 50 overs, with Justin Robinson playing a captain’s innings of 51 not out and aggressive left-hander Treadwell Gibbons scoring a disciplined 42.

In the absence of key batsman Janeiro Tucker through suspension, as well as the unavailable Kwame Tucker and Alex Dore, Stars were looking to take advantage of Rangers’s wafer-thin batting line-up and reduced their opponents to 23 for two before rain forced a 25-minute stoppage.

When play resumed Stars seam bowler Jason Lowe and off spinner Brian Hall Jr continued to frustrate Jason Wade and Ricardo Brangman, the Rangers batsmen at the crease, by bowling in the right areas on a wicket where the ball kept low.

With very little batting to come, the middle-order pair knew their partnership would be crucial to Rangers’s hopes of victory and cautiously put on 50 runs for the third wicket before Brangman nicked a Gibbons delivery to Temiko Wilson, the Stars wicketkeeper.

Wade enjoyed a reprieve on 36 when he was dropped by Robinson — a sharp chance — off the bowling of seam bowler Makai Young with the score at 99 for four.

The Rangers batsman had tried to raise the tempo, looking to target Jaiden Manders, the young Stars off spinner, but succumbed by holing out in the deep for 43.

Andrew Raynor was the only other batsman able to offer any real resistance, scoring 32, with Rangers’s innings folding quickly from there on.

The remaining five wickets fell for a measly 25 runs, with seam bowler Seth Campbell wrapping up the victory, taking two wickets in his one and only over, which also featured a run out.

With tough matches against Bailey’s Bay and St David’s up next, Wendell Smith, the Stars coach, admitted it had been imperative for his team to get “points on the board” against Rangers.

“Rangers were a bit short-handed because they didn’t have Janeiro, Kwame or Alex Dore, so the game was there for us to take,” Smith said.

“It’s important for us to take points off the teams in and around our ability level and so far we’ve done that.

“There are couple of teams who are going to be very difficult — St David’s and Bailey’s Bay — and we happen to have them both next.

“The next two weeks will really tell us where we’re at. St David’s have a very strong batting department while Bay have the best bowling line-up in Bermuda, so that will tell us just how far we’ve come.”

Smith praised the batting of Gibbons, who also claimed three wickets, and Robinson and said he was encouraged by the strong team spirit within the dressing room.

“It was a good all-round performance and we had to work hard,” he said. “It was a difficult pitch because the ball was staying low.

“We wanted to bat the 50 overs out and we did that. I thought Treddy Gibbons batted really well because it was difficult to play pull shots and Justin Robinson also batted well to give us a chance.

“We want to be competitive against everybody and on our day I believe we can be. For a team that’s just got promoted, we’re happy with how we’ve started.”

Rangers in contrast have lost twice in a row, and face Cleveland next weekend in a game they will feel they have to win.

Janeiro Tucker will be available for the defending champions, after serving his suspension for breaching the code of conduct.