A solid innings of 61 by opener Montcin Hodge and other important contributions from Keiron Powell (48), Gavin Williams (44) and Captain Steven Liburd (39) gave the Leeward Islands the upper hand after the opening day of their fifth round WICB Regional First Class encounter against the Windwards, at the GCC ground yesterday.
Choosing to bat after winning the toss on a track that offered little assistance to the bowlers, the Leewards, who started the match on 10 points were 254-5 off 94 overs with Omari Banks (18 not out) and Wilden Cornwall (23*), the overnight batsmen heading into today’s second day.
The pick of the bowlers so far is Shane Shillingford, who figures at the close read 2-73 from 28 overs, while there was one wicket apiece for Nelon Pascal, Deighton Butler and Rawl Lewis.
Openers Hodge and Mali Richards started the innings watchfully more content on placing the ball in the gaps and looking for the singles as they allowed the bowlers to settle into a nice rhythm.
They moved the score to 22 runs in the first hour, before Richards, who was a model in defence attempted to flick the off-spinner Shillingford off his pads and only succeeded in offering a catch to wicketkeeper Lyndon James. He stood at the crease for almost one minute before trudging off in disappointment, perhaps feeling that he was undone by a seemingly bad decision from umpire Clyde Duncan. Richards made 12.
That brought the hard-hitting Powell to the centre and in his usual style played his strokes, belting Shillingford through mid-wicket for a boundary and together with Hodge took the Leewards to 63-1 at the lunch interval with his personal tally on 29 with three fours and his partner on a patient 19.
After the break, the exciting left-hander Powell continued where he left off, stroking both Shillingford and leg-spinner Lewis gracefully for boundaries, while Hodge was more content on playing the supporting role.
With the total on 91, Powell tried to loft Lewis over the long-on fence, but only succeeded in finding Butler stationed just inside the ropes. It was sweet revenge for the veteran bowler and Powell returned to the pavilion for an entertaining 48 laced with seven fours off 71 balls compiled in 80 minutes.
Williams came next and he too looked to play aggressively and they posted the Leewards 100 in the 42nd over. Hodge tried to increase the tempo, striking the odd boundary and eventually reached his half century off 165 balls in 193 minutes with two fours. Williams meanwhile continued to bat with confidence, executing a majestic square cut off Shillingford for four to bring up the Leewards 150. The landmark was reached in the 64th over.
At Tea, the pair was still together and the total on 161-2 with Hodge on 56 and Williams 38.
Two quick wickets fell shortly after the interval with Hodge the first to go caught behind off Butler with the score on 167 and then Williams went leg before to Pascal for the addition of just six runs as the Windwards showed signs of life after a poor fielding display earlier on. Liburd and Banks then teamed up and they steadied the situation admirably mixing aggression with solid defence.
The Leewards skipper and Banks took the total to 229 when he was trapped leg before totally misreading a fuller delivery from Shillingford, going back and offering no shot only to see Umpire Duncan upraised finger signalling his return to the pavilion.
Cornwall and Banks ensured no more mishaps with the former so far hitting an attacking 23 laced with four boundaries, while the latter’s knock included two fours.
Tomorrow the Windwards will no doubt look to wrap up the Leewards innings very early in the morning to start their quest for first innings points.
Play resumes at 10:00 hrs.
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