Palmer, explosive Smith give Scorpions the upper hand over Red Force; Walsh undermines Hurricanes with career-best bowling

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Test batsman Vishaul Singh will hold the key to leaders and reigning three-time champions Guyana Jaguars successfully completing a modest run chase against Windward Islands Volcanoes, after they lost a cluster of early wickets in the Digicel 4-Day Championship on Saturday.

Singh is the only one of the front-line Jaguars batsmen remaining, after the Jaguars lost the cream of their batting – including veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Test batsman Leon Johnson – before the close on the third day of their sixth-round match at the Guyana National Stadium, after they were set 165 to win.

Singh will be required to shepherd the lower order in the hunt for the 60 now needed to take the Jaguars to their fifth victory of the season and a step closer to their fourth hold on the Headley/Weekes Trophy, symbol of first-class supremacy in the Caribbean.

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Jamaica Scorpions captain Paul Palmer completed his maiden first-class hundred, but he was upstaged by the big-hitting of a former West Indies Under-19 World Cup-winning star that gave their side a huge advantage over Trinidad & Tobago Red Force at Sabina Park.

And, former Leeward Islands Hurricanes leg-spinner Hayden Walsh, Jr led the demolition of his former teammates, as Barbados Pride tightened their grip on their match at Warner Park.

Volcanoes (117) & (241) vs Jaguars (194) & 104-4 in Providence, Guyana

Singh was unbeaten on 48 at stumps and has so far counted seven fours in a 75-ball knock that has taken him past 450 runs for the season.

Volcanoes had earlier put up an admirable fight with veteran left-handed opener Devon Smith falling for 95 – five short of his fourth hundred of the season.

Smith struck seven fours from 185 balls in 4 ½ hours of batting that saw him carry his aggregate for the season to 612, one more than than last season, making him the first batsman to reach the 600-run threshold this term.

Resuming on 49 with his side on 127 for six, Smith anchored a crucial seventh-wicket stand of 69 with wicketkeeper/batsman Dennis Smith which took Volcanoes to the cusp of the 200-run mark.

Following his dismissal, Shane Shillingford and Delorn Johnson posted 30 for the ninth wicket to extend the innings and further frustrate the Jaguars.

All five Jaguars bowlers used ended with two wickets.

In pursuit of their small target, Jaguars ran into early trouble, when left-hander Tagenarine Chanderpaul, son of Shivnarine, was lbw to left-arm seamer Johnson without scoring to the sixth delivery of the innings.

Johnson struck again in the ninth over to bowl his namesake for 12 and when medium pacer Kyle Mayers trapped opener Chandrapaul Hemraj lbw for 19, Jaguars were tottering on 51 for three.

Singh came to crease and with the elder Chanderpaul stabilised the innings in a 37-run, fourth wicket stand before off-spinner Shane Shillingford struck a crucial blow, removing the Windies legend four overs before the close.

Red Force (243) vs Scorpions 318-4 in Kingston, Jamaica

Palmer became the second century-maker for the Scorpions, gathering a resolute 136, to follow John Campbell’s 156 on the previous day.

But it was the audacious batting of Odean Smith, playing his maiden first-class match, that captured the headlines, as the Scorpions were bowled out about an hour before the scheduled close.

Smith, a member of Shimron Hetmyer’s Youth World Cup-winning side last year, smashed one four along with an incredible seven sixes in 54 from just 27 balls in just under half-hour to help the Scorpions add 59 from their last two stands of the innings which further frustrated the visitors.

Left-arm fast-medium bowler Daniel St Clair was the most successful Red Force bowler, taking 4-68 from 19 overs, veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan had easily his most forgettable spell in R4Day matches, but still ended with 3-180 from 37 overs, and left-arm spinner Khary Pierre scalped 2-83 from 26 overs.

The Scorpions tightened their grip on the match, when fast bowler Reynard Leveridge had left-handed opener Amir Jangoo caught by Smith in the deep for nine, as the Red Force finished the day still 271 in arrears.

Pride (394) & 110-4 vs Hurricanes (246) in Basseterre, St. Kitts

St. Croix born, but Antigua raised, Walsh has emerged from the development programmes of the Leewards, but he has not been able to command a regular place in the sub-regional side in recent seasons.

But the Cricket West Indies Professional Cricket League franchise system that is now in its fourth season has come to the rescue of the 25-year-old leg-spinner, whose late father Hayden Sr was a gritty opener for the Hurricanes in the 1990s.

Walsh has been picked up by the Pride in the Player Draft over the last few seasons and has made sparodic appearances for the franchise in the Championship, due to the line of succession which includes Windies Test left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, One-day off-spinner Ashley Nurse and veteran Sulieman Benn.

But Walsh embodied the biblical passage about the stone the builder failed to use being put to a greater purpose, when he claimed 6-48 from 20 overs, as the Hurricanes were bowled out about half-hour before tea.

All-rounder Kevin Stoute snared 4-58 from 18.3 overs to help complete the demolition of the Hurricanes’ batting, as they slumped from the relative comfort lost their last seven wickets for 58.

Windies “A” Team opener Montcin Hodge hit the top score of 82 for the Hurricanes, Akeem Saunders made 31, Devon Thomas got 26, and Nkrumah Bonner and skipper Rahkeem Cornwall added 23 apiece.
Batting a second time, Pride recovered from a shaky start, only to lose two key wickets in the final to finish the day with an overall lead of 258.