Intrigue looms in Basseterre, Kingston

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – A landmark hundred from Devon Smith failed to prevent Trinidad & Tobago Red Force from galloping to a 10-wicket victory inside three days over Windward Islands Volcanoes in the Digicel 4-Day Championship on Saturday.

Smith achieved the rare feat of carrying his bat for the third time in the modern history of the Windies first-class championship (1966 onwards) to log his second hundred of the season.

Penetrative bowling however, from left-arm fast-medium bowler Daniel St. Clair and leg-spinner Imran Khan undermined the rest of the Volcanoes’ batting in the second innings, leaving Red Force with a negligible target to chase in their third-round contest at Queen’s Park Oval.

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Meantime, table leaders and three-time reigning champions Guyana Jaguars were engaged in a bitter fight for survival against Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park, and Barbados Pride made hay while the rain stayed away in their day/night clash with Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park.

Red Force (402) & 24-0 beat Volcanoes (166) & (259 f/o) by 10 wickets in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Smith was undefeated on 119 – his 31st first-class career hundred – as the Volcanoes were bowled out inside the final hour.

The compact left-hander from Grenada smashed 13 fours and one six from 240 balls in close to 5 ½ hours of batting, sharing half-century stands with Tarryck Gabriel for the third wicket and Shane Shillingford for the eighth wicket to beef-up the Volcanoes’ total.

Shillingford made 52, Gabriel scored 25 and Kavem Hodge added 20, as the visitors’ batting was undermined by left-arm fast-medium bowler and Player-of-the-Match Daniel St. Clair with 4-29 from 13 overs and leg-spinner Imran Khan with 4-67 from 22.2 overs.

Needing 24 for victory, Red Force knocked them off with little trouble just prior to scheduled close with West Indies batsman Kyle Hope not out on 17 and left-handed opener Amir Jangoo not out on one.

But this was the third time that Smith carried his bat in the modern Windies first-class championship – and quite extraordinarily, all three times have been against Red Force at the same venue.

He previously achieved the feat in the 2014 season, when he was undefeated on 48 in a total of 122, and in the 2016-17 season, when he was not out on 86 in a total of 142.

There have been 14 instances in the modern Windies first-class championship of batsmen “carrying the bat”, which refers to an opening batsman who is not dismissed (“not out”) when the team’s innings comes to a close after all 10 wickets have fallen.

Smith, playing his 120th match for Volcanoes, now has an unprecedented 25 hundreds in the modern Windies first-class championship.

Hurricanes (412-6 dec) vs Jaguars (206) & 53-2 in Basseterre, St. Kitts

Test left-hander Vishaul Singh was left agonizingly just short of a hundred, after he led a resolute Jaguars fightback, but the visitors were forced to follow on, leaving the Hurricanes licking their chops at the prospects of a third straight victory over this opponent.

Singh was unbeaten on 97, after Jaguars, starting the day tottering on 53 for six in their first innings, battled their way to a respectable total.

Sherfane Rutherford, batting at nine, added a valuable 32, but off-spinner Terrance Ward captured 4-48 from 10 overs and two other bowlers took two wickets apiece to keep the pressure on.

Following on, the Jaguars doggedly batted through 41 overs to avoid giving away cheap wickets to the Hurricanes.

Test batsman Leon Johnson, their captain, was not out on 27 and night-watchman Veerasammy Permaul was not out on six when stumps were drawn, but Jaguars are likely to employ the same approach on Sunday’s final day in a bid to frustrate the Hurricanes.

With the cream of the batting which includes veteran former Windies left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Singh still to come, it could be a long, hard grind.

Scorpions (176-8 dec) vs Pride 111-2 in Kingston, Jamaica

Steady batting led by Windies “A” Team “Test” captain Shamarh Brooks and rookie opener Shayne Moseley followed up purposeful bowling to put the Pride in a favourable position following a strategic declaration from Scorpions.

Brooks made 48 and Moseley, not out on 41 at the close, shared 68 for the second wicket, keeping the Pride on track, as they made valuable progress in their badly rain-affected match.

With the Scorpions’ declaration allowing them to capture just two bowling points, they will be looking to advance their total while keeping wickets in hand – weather permitting – to make the most of the situation on the final day.

Medium-fast bowler Kevin Stoute grabbed 4-58 from 24 overs and off-spinner Ashley Nurse bagged 3-52 from the same number of overs, as the Pride worked their way through Scorpions’ batting.

Resuming on 111 for two, Scorpions ran into difficulty on 143 for seven before Derval Green hit a rapid 30 and dominated a handy stand of 33 with his captain Paul Palmer to hasten the declaration.