By Sean Devers
Twenty-year-old Sunil Ambris fashioned a brilliant debut 114 to spearhead the Windward Islands to 289-6 by the end of the first day of their third round Regional Four-Day cricket match against host Guyana yesterday at the National Stadium in Providence.
Ambris, from the Island of St. Vincent, faced 208 balls and batted for 238 minutes; reaching the boundary 17 times to become the first and youngest Windward Island batsman to score a century on debut.
A handful of diehard fans watched as he shared in a 156-run fifth wicket partnership with his Skipper Liam Sebastien, who finished the day unbeaten on a responsible 60.
Sebastien, the 29-year-old Dominican, has so far batted for 231 minutes, faced 134 balls and hit eight fours in his innings after Devon Smith (28) and Tyrone Theophile (42) put on 65 for the first wicket. Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul (3-63) and medium pacer Chris Barnwell (2-42) were the most successful Guyana bowlers.
Ambris, who played in the 2012 under-19 World Cup in Australia, said he was delighted to be the first and youngest Windwards player to register a ton in his first innings at this level.
“Words cannot express how happy I feel to achieve such a feat. The pitch was one that you had to be patient on and pick your shots since the spinners got slow turn. Once you did not try to play too many shots too early I think it was a good pitch to bat on,” Ambris said.
The Windwards won the toss and opted to bat on a dry track which began keeping low from the first session but Smith and Theophile batted without much worry against the new ball attack of Keon Joseph and off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine.
After the first hour the visitors had progressed to 48 without loss as the ploy to use Deonarine against Smith, who is usually susceptible to quality off-spin, failed to bear fruit.
Smith pulled Joseph for four and Theophile hooked the West Berbice fast bowler for six with nonchalant ease, while the left-handed Smith used his feet nicely to Deonarine and dumped him over the head of mid-on for another boundary.
Smith, who has a century and five fifties from 33 Tests, pushed forward to Permaul and was snapped up at short leg for 28 from 83 minutes with four fours to leave the Islanders on 65-1.
Permaul struck again when he had Theophile LBW for 42 just when he was beginning to look dangerous as the Windwards slipped to 78-2. Permaul then had Keddy Lesporis caught behind for a duck without addition to the score and by Lunch it was 85-3 from 36 overs.
Nine overs after Lunch Guyana made another break-through when Romel Currency (15) was caught behind off Bishoo and the Windwards, the only Regional team without a title, were 107-4.
Ambris, who turns 21 in nine days, cut Joseph viciously for four before whipping him elegantly off his legs for another boundary in the same over to gallop to 45. But he slowed down as he approached his half-century.
He reached the landmark off Deonarine with his seventh four from 115 minutes and 107 balls and then celebrated with a ferocious pull off Bishoo which reached the boundary like a bullet.
Sebastien joined Ambris and the pair took their team to Tea to 186-4 with an unfinished 79-run fifth wicket partnership with Ambris on 63 and his Captain on 29.
Guyana surprisingly left out Raun Johnson, who bowled impressively on debut in the last game, and Amir Khan from their starting X1 and toiled in sultry contributions after Tea as Sebastien and Ambris grew in confidence on the sluggish track.
Ambris swiveled and pulled Joseph with disdain to the square-leg boundary before reaching his ton with an edge to the vacant third man ropes. He celebrated his century with a pugnacious pull off a Joseph ‘long-hop’ as the pacer conceded 45 runs from seven overs.
His hundred took 221 minutes, 192 balls and was decorated with 15 fours and the celebrations of his Captain was even more animated than Ambris’, who punched the air in delight.
Ambris batted intelligently and when the bearded Assad Fudadin replaced Joseph, the treatment from the right hander was the same; a thunderous pull to the mid-wicket boundary.
Ambris was eventually trapped LBW to Barnwell, who removed Lyndon James for a duck next ball as the Islanders, who have beaten Guyana five times in their last six meetings at this level, slipped to 263-6.
Alston Bobb averted the hat-trick ball before Sebastien got to his ninth fifty at this level with an audacious lofted drive, back over the bowler’s head when Barnwell pitched up. His half-century took 187 minutes, 117 balls and included seven fours.
Bobb stayed with his Captain for 33 minutes to ensure their team, which beat Guyana at this venue by 151 runs in 2008, did not lose another wicket heading into the second day today.
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