Leewards bats enjoy opening day
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Leeward Islands batsmen turned in a solid performance that helped to vindicate a decision to bat first against title-challengers Trinidad and Tobago at Kensington Oval here Tuesday.
After winning the toss in overcast conditions on the opening day of their fourth round Regional Under-19 clash, the Leewards, inspired by a stoic, unbeaten 68 from captain Akeem Saunders, occupied the crease for the entire rain-shortened day to compile 221 for four.
Saunders anchored two key partnerships to stabilize the Leeward Islands innings after it stood precariously at 46 for two. He put on 86 for the third wicket with opener Darren Hobson who cracked 53 before adding a further 63 in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership with Deno Baker who was 41 not out at the close.
Only pacer Philbert Williams (3-56), Trinidad & Tobago’s sole wicket-taker, made an impact as that their previously prolific spin bowlers struggled on the placid batting surface.
A persistent shower just before the scheduled start of play erased more than an hour of the first session which was further shortened by more rain a few minutes before the lunch break with the Leewards 39 for one.
Williams worked up fiery pace with the new ball and made the first strike, dismissing Duan Webbe via a catch by Brian Christmas, in the team for the injured opening batsman Stephon Wharwood.
The right arm quickie soon induced a gloved catch to wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran from Shawn Tuitt (10) who was late on the hook shot, to bring Hobson and Saunders together shortly after the interval.
For the next two and a half hours, the right handed pair blunted the bowling until the heavy-set Hobson found himself the victim of slick work by Williams in the covers to be run out after he had stroked one four and two sixes in an innings lasting 211 minutes and 165 balls.
Williams next dispatched Ashawn Hodge for what turned out to be the last success for the “Trinis”, who started the final series in third position in the standings with 28.5 points.
Saunders notched up 50 from 135 balls with five fours and has so far batted for 273 minutes while adding another two boundaries. Baker, who was the most aggressive Leewards batsman, clobbered five fours in his 82-ball knock.