By Sean Devers
At a venue where artificial lights were used in the first round, bad light stopped play
yesterday at the Providence Stadium with six overs remaining on a truncated opening day of the second round Regional First-Class four-day cricket Franchise between Guyana Jaguars and Windward Islands Volcanoes, with the host, led by an unbeaten 79 from Narsingh Deonarine, on 168-3.
The 31-year-old left-handed Berbician, with five fifties from 18 Tests, followed up his undefeated 110 against the Leewards in the opening round last week, with a cultured unbeaten 79. His 79 came from 194 minutes, 194 balls and was decorated with nine well struck boundaries.
Deonarine, who has 10 First-Class hundreds and eight for Guyana at the Regional level, shared in half-Century partnerships with fellow left-handers Assad Fudadin for the third wicket and Shiv Chanderpaul for the fourth as the Jaguars batted cautiously on a sluggish track that again made driving a tedious adventure after the entire first session was washed out.
Even though most Streets in the Nation’s Capitol were under water for the second day in a row due to pounding rain which did not miss Providence, the Stadium proved that it is one of the fastest drying International Cricket Venues in the world when the sun replaced the heavy downpour just before Lunch resulting in the contest commencing at 12:30 hrs on a lush green and dry outfield.
Deonarine endured a nightmare season earlier this year with the bat but reminded the handful of spectators yesterday of his class with a wonderfully compiled knock in his 119th First-Class match to
stake an early claim to a Test recall when England tour the Carribean next year.
His stroke-play yesterday and his fantastic start to this season suggested that he is capable of reproducing his 2008 form when he became the first batsman to reach 1,000 runs in a regional season. His 1068 runs with two hundreds paved the way for his West Indies recall for the 2009 tour by England.
One of 17 players from Berbice and one of five from Albion to play Test cricket, Deonarine mixed caution with aggression as he progressed to his 43rd First Class half-century from 107 minutes and 93 balls on the still fast outfield.
After Rajendra Chandrika (5) inexplicably played no shot to pacer Nelon Pascal and had his stumps scattered at 5-1, Skipper Leon Johnson (19) batted for 53 minutes and faced 44 deliveries to take the score to 39 with Fudadin, who has been drafted into the West Indies team to tour South America next month as Darren Bravo’s replacement.
But after hitting three fours and looking set for a big score, Johnson, Guyana’s newest Test player, played an impetuous pull to a ball from left-arm seamer Kenroy Peters that ‘stopped’ on him and top-edged a catch to cover.
Deonarine joined Fudadin, who at times failed to score as quickly as he should, but looked sound and by Tea the Jaguars had reached 99-2 in the extended session.
Fudadin, the only Test player produced by Rose Hall Town, rocked onto the back-foot and delightfully cut Pascal for four before he repeated the shot when left-arm spinner Alton Bobb, who had 11 wickets in the first round, pitched short.
The 29-year-old Fudadin, playing the sheet anchor role, looked set to celebrate his Test recall with a fifth First-Class ton and Deonarine disdainfully pulled Bobb for four to gallop into the 20’s and overtake the solid Fudadin.
Deonarine soon began to flow and dispatched off-spinner Liam Sebastian for four past mid-on, while Fudadin pounced on Sebastian and pulled him viciously for four.
Andre Fletcher bowled a solitary over of leg-spin and disappeared to the cover boundary as Deonarine stepped on the gas as the run rate increased towards Tea.
By Tea the third wicket stand between Fudadin and Deonarine was worth 60 runs with Deonarine on 41 and Fudadin on 32.
After Tea, Fudadin was LBW to Mervin Matthew for 34 after batting for 111 balls and 154 minutes to leave the Jaguars on 110-3.
Chanderpaul, one of nine over-40 West Indian Test players, batted with consummate ease in overcast conditions against a spin attack which looked ordinary after the three-prong pace attack had utilized the pitch and conditions with controlled, if not penetrative spells.
While Deonarine continued to ooze confidence Chanderpaul, with the most centuries (15) by a Guyanese in Regional cricket, looked set for another long innings when he played a rare bad shot when on 19 with the Jaguars on 140-3.
The second highest West Indian run-scorer in Tests behind Brian Lara, miss-timed a ball from Peters that failed to ‘make the pace off the pitch’ that Chanderpaul anticipated and his pull lobbed over the bowler’s head only to see the mid-on and mid-off fielders converge on the ball without any communication resulting in a crucial chance going to waste.
Chanderpaul could make the Volcanoes pay dearly for their lapse today, while Deonarine will be eying his second consecutive century and both could be praying for no rain when play is scheduled to start at 09:00hrs today to make up for the overs not bowled yesterday when the lights were surprisingly not called for by the Umpires.
Meanwhile, the T&T Red Force restricted the Leeward Islands to133-6 from 55 Overs on a rain hit day in St Kitts. Austin Richards Jr (34), Akeem Saunders (34), Devon Thomas (24) and Lyndell Richardson (18) all got starts as Imran Khan had 3-47 for the visitors.
No play was possible in the match between Jamaica and Barbados after heavy rain on that island put a damper on proceedings there.
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