ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Three-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars placed one hand firmly on the Headley/Weekes Trophy, symbol of WINDIES first-class supremacy, when they prevailed over long-standing rivals Jamaica Scorpions by two wickets in a nail-biting finish to their match in the Digicel 4-Day Championship on Saturday.
Jaguars were left to chase 136 for victory, after they bowled out the Scorpions before lunch on the third day of their eighth-round match at Sabina Park. But they collapsed from 64 for two to 84 for six before their lower-order ushered them over the finish line to post one of two victories in the Championship on the day.
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Veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan completed a 10-wicket match haul, but former WINDIES international wicketkeeper/batsman Devon Thomas and WINDIES opener Kieran Powell led the charge before it was left to tail-ender Jason Campbell to formalise a come-from-behind, one-run victory for Leeward Islands Hurricanes over Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Queen’s Park Oval.
Meantime, Barbados Pride’s bid to stay in the hunt and keep the pressure up on the Jaguars hit a major snag, when rain disrupted play in their contest against bottom-of-the-table Windward Islands Volcanoes at Kensington Oval.
Scorpions (106) & (212) lost to Jaguars (183) & 136-8 by two wickets in Kingston, Jamaica
Veteran left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, the Scorpions captain, bagged 4-64 from 19 overs, but a crisp 40 from left-handed opener Chanderpaul Hemraj set up the chase for the Jaguars.
But four wickets fell for 20 in the space of 92 deliveries before former WINDIES World Cup-winning all-rounder Keemo Paul counter-attacked, lashing three sixes in an 11-ball cameo of 21 to put on a crucial 30 for the seventh wicket with former WINDIES captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul to edge Jaguars closer to their target.
Drama ensued however, when Paul was stumped off Miller, and with only nine runs added in the next 10 overs, Chanderpaul was caught close-in off Miller for 16 looking to work the ball away into the leg-side.
The double success for Miller left Jagurs tottering on 123 for eight, handing Scorpions a huge chance to snatch a late win.
But Brandon King dropped Gudakesh Motie at second slip in a critical miss for Scorpions and he remained with Veerasammy Permaul turn off-spinner John Campbell into the leg-side for a single to complete the Jaguars’ sixth win of the season.
Jaguars can be confirmed champions as early as Sunday, if the match at Kensington Oval ends in a draw.
Red Force (222) & (162) lost to Hurricanes (163) & 226-9 by one wicket in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
Khan collected 5-87 from 25.3 overs to put Red Force on track for victory, after they were bowled out in the morning session.
Hurricanes suffered a shaky start in their chase of 221, losing WINDIES “A” Team opener Montcin Hodge and former WINDIES Under-19 batsman Keacy Carty cheaply.
But Thomas came to the crease and put on 93 for the third wicket with Powell to take the visitors past the 100-run mark.
Thomas hit the top score of 65 and Powell made 41, but their dismissals saw a steady stream from the pavilion and Hurricanes slumped to 205 for nine, as Khan worked his way through their batting.
Campbell however, farmed the bowling in partnership with last-man Sheeno Berridge and slammed Khan for a six over long-on to bring up the victory in style.
Earlier, Berridge, who ended with 4-40 from 14.4 overs, and Mervin Matthew, who finished with 2-27 from 14 overs, took the last two Red Force wickets fairly quickly to leave their side almost the entire day to pursue victory.
Pride (316) vs Volcanoes 241-6 in Bridgetown, Barbados
Not a ball was bowled, due to wet conditions caused by persistent rain. Play was officially abandoned for the day following the scheduled tea break – and will commence half-hour earlier on Sunday’s final day.