Saturday, April 13, 2024

Windwards take lead


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BARBADOS conceded first innings lead for the fifth time in successive matches yesterday, but not before plenty of drama and excitement unfolded at Kensington Oval.
The Windward Islands gained a slender nine-run advantage in a sensational post tea-session that produced a clatter of wickets and a rearguard last-wicket stand that will seemingly end Barbados’ chances of winning a semi-final place in the WICB regional four-day competition.
When the visitors went to the break well positioned at 286 for four in reply to Barbados’ 341, the battle for first innings lead appeared a foregone conclusion.
A responsible hundred from Andre Fletcher and an equally valuable innings from captain Liam Sebastien (94) had the Windwards sitting pretty. But the dismissal of Kevin James 22 minutes after the resumption led to a flurry of wickets that brought the hosts back into the match and suddenly put things on a knife’s edge.
The horrendous collapse featured fast bowler Fidel Edwards and the fall of five wickets for 18 runs.
The persevering Tino Best triggered the collapse with the removal of James to a catch at the wicket, leaving the score on 309 for six. With the score on 327, Edwards then captured three wickets.
Barbados were now favoured for the lead, with No. 11 Delorn Johnson walking out to partner wicketkeeper/batsman Lyndon James and another 15 runs required.
James endured an uncertain start and continued to play and miss, while the left-handed Johnson demonstrated that he could handle himself with the bat.
Barbados had a chance to gain the lead when Windwards were 334 but Jonathan Carter missed a sharp, tumbling chance at second slip offered by Johnson off Best. The resulting boundary to third man brought Windwards to within three of Barbados’ total.
After James missed a few balls from Best at the start of the next over, he achieved the lead for Windwards with a cover-drive for four. He was dismissed for 25 to give Edwards his fifth wicket.
The Windwards’ score of 350 was their highest of the season and marked only the third time in eight innings that they passed 200.
Barbados, who reached seven without loss off six overs in their second innings, will also reflect on a costly miss by Kyle Hope at gully that let off Kevin James when on seven off Pedro Collins a few overs after the second new ball was taken.
James made 24 and used up time in helping Sebastien add 50 for the fifth wicket.
It was to Barbados’ credit, however, that they were able to make a match of it after the Windwards dominated the first two sessions of the day in which the highlight was a fourth-wicket stand of 136 between Fletcher and Sebastien.
Fletcher completed his fifth first-class century with a very mature and assured display.
His 116 came from 230 balls and included 16 fours in 342 minutes’ batting before he was bowled by Best.
Sebastian, eyeing a second successive ton at Kensington, continued to hold things together for the Windwards before his resistance ended 40 minutes after tea with a ball from Collins that cut in and trapped him lbw on the back foot. He counted 12 fours in an innings that lasted 265 minutes and 178 balls.
It was the key wicket Barbados required, opening the floodgates for Edwards to run through the lower order. His triple-strike accounted for Garey Mathurin, whose middle stump was uprooted; Mervin Matthew, who edged a catch to the keeper; and Kenroy Peters, a lbw victim to a ball of fullish length.
As the runs dried up, Lyndon James decided to attack, lifting Edwards over long-on with the ball nearly carrying for six.
He survived a confident shout for lbw when he probably got an inside edge, and he continued to ride his luck in helping the Windwards achieve first innings lead for the fourth time this season.


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