By Sean Devers
History was created yesterday at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence when artificial
lights was used for the first time in a Regional First-Class day game as the Guyana Jaguars, led by an unbeaten 73 from Narsingh Deonarine, batted out the entire opening day in their WICB four-day Franchise game against the Leeward Islands.
By the close of a day which remained mostly overcast, the Jaguars reached 230-5 against controlled bowling on a low and slow pitch which made free scoring a difficult task in a battle of attrition. Neither team was able to dominate but taking the state of the pitch into consideration and with the Jaguars spin attack, the hosts ended the day holding a slim advantage.
Deonarine, the first batsman to score 1,000 runs in a Regional season in 2008, finished the day with his 43rd First-Class fifty from 117 matches at this level and batted for 252 minutes, facing 193 balls in a superb exhibition of responsible batting.
The left-handed Deonarine, who played 18 Tests, added 83 for the fourth wicket with fellow left hander Shiv Chanderpaul, who was caught behind with probably the best ball of the day when five short of what would have been his 127th First Class half-century.
Deonarine and Chanderpaul joined forces in the second session when Skipper Leon Johnson, one of six Test players in the home team was removed by the Leewards’ only Test player, pacer Gavin Tonge for 31 at 86-3.
The Jaguars, who left out Vishaul Singh and Trevon Griffith, won the toss and opted to bat after a sharp shower delayed the start of play by 15 minutes. Rajendra Chandrika and Test batsman Assad Fudadin carried the score to 14 before Fudadin (6) was trapped LBW in Orlando Peters’ first over after struggling to get the ball off the square in his 36-minute and 25-ball innings.
Guyana, who lost to the Islanders in Antigua when they last met at this level, laboured to 20-1
in the first hour and by Lunch had reached 53-1 with Chandrika, who played some fluent shots against on target bowling from new ball bowlers Tonge and Kelbert Walters, operating in English-like condition.
Johnson punched Walters gloriously off the back foot through cover before pulling the pacer pugnaciously to the mid wicket boundary for another boundary in the same over and by Lunch Chandrika was on 30 and Johnson, dropped on five off Walters, unbeaten on 17 as the Jaguars limped to 53-1 from 25 overs by the Interval.
After Lunch, Chandrika ran himself out after doing all the hard work in the first session to leave Guyana on 63-2 before Johnson touched a catch to the keeper to give Test pacer Tonge a scalp with the Jaguars on 87-3. Johnson’s 31 lasted 99 minutes, 78 balls with six fours.
Deonarine caressed leg-spinner Anthony Martin magnificently for consecutive boundaries through the covers and after enduring a nightmare run with the bat earlier this year, seemed to be back to his ‘old self’ as his confidence grew as his innings progressed in hazy sunshine.
Watched by a working day crowd of about 50 fans, the 31-year-old Deonarine and 40-year-old veteran Chanderpaul improved their run rate slightly and by Tea were 140-3 with Deonarine undefeated on 48 and Chanderpaul not out on 22 after the pair had posted their 50 partnership in 72 minutes.
Chanderpaul put his foot on the gas and raced into the forties with an array of audacious shots on the lush green and fast outfield. Two consecutive boundaries off leg-spinner Anthony Martin were absolutely delightful and the few fans in the stands were on their feet on a slow day.
Deonarine reached his 50 from 102 balls, 123 minutes with seven fours before Chanderpaul, the most capped West Indian Test cricketer, got a brute of a ball from off-spinner Jacques Taylor which bounced and turned after drawing Chanderpaul onto the front foot to take the edge on its way the Skipper Devon Thomas behind the stumps to leave the Guyana Jaguars on 169-4.
Barbadian Raymond Reifer, the fifth left-hander among the six top order batsmen, looked to be positive before he was LBW to Tonge for 18 at 199-5.
Deonarine and Barnwell (23*) then saw their team to the close after the floodlights were turned on at 15:58 hrs due to the fading light. Today is the second day and play is scheduled to commence at 10:00hrs.
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