Veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan, the Red Force captain, grabs headlines with career-best spell

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Front-runners Leeward Islands Hurricanes hit back with a couple of early wickets, but four-time defending champions Guyana Jaguars still held the edge in their top-of-the-table clash in the West Indies Championship on Thursday here.

Hurricanes struck twice before the close to get back into the game, after they were bowled out in the final hour before tea on the first day of their second-round match at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

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At the same time, veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan started his reign as Trinidad & Tobago Red Force captain impressively with a career-best spell that helped his side bowl out Windward Islands Volcanoes before tea at the Brian Lara Cricket Ground in Trinidad.

In the other match, opener John Campbell hit a typically enterprising half-century which followed up left-arm spinner Nikita Miller leading the demolition of the Barbados Pride batting to put Jamaica Scorpions on top at the Three Ws Oval in Barbados.

Hurricanes (182) vs Jaguars 36-2 in St. John’s, Antigua

The Jaguars were set back early, when opener Trevon Griffith was run out for 12, and suffered another blow, when off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, playing his first game of the season, added the scalp of their captain Leon Johnson caught at slip for six just before stumps were drawn.

Earlier, Jaguars new-ball bowler Romario Shepherd and left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie shared seven wickets to lead the destruction of the Hurricanes’ batting, after the visitors won the toss and chose to field.

Shepherd was the pick of the Jaguars’ bowlers, taking 4-36 from 14 overs, and Motie supported with 3-23 from 9.3 overs.

Hurricanes captain Devon Thomas and veteran opener Montcin Hodge defied the Jaguars’ attack and propped up the home team’s batting with contrasting half-centuries.

Thomas struck eight fours in the top score of 58 from 74 balls in just under 2 ½ hours of batting and Hodge gathered seven boundaries in an even 50 from 127 balls in just under two hours at the crease.

Hurricanes reached 83 for one following a 69-run, second-wicket stand between Hodge and Keacy Carty, the sole century-maker in the first round of the Championship.

But the hosts stumbled to 108 for five before a stand of 49 between Thomas and Orlando Peters for the sixth wicket brought some respectability to the total, and they lost their last five wickets for 25 runs in 67 balls.

Volcanoes (206) vs Red Force 79-1 in Tarouba, Trinidad

Red Force suffered the early loss of Barbados-born opener Kyle Hope lbw to veteran off-spinner Shane Shillingford for 11, but an unbroken, 55-run stand between opener Jeremy Solozano, not out on 46, and fellow left-hander Amir Jangoo, not out on 19, ensured they finished the day strongly.

The lanky Khan had made sure Red Force started the match strongly, grabbing the headlines with a spell of 7-47 from 22.1 overs, as he almost singlehandedly dismantled the Volcanoes batting, after they won the toss and chose to bat.

Volcanoes captain Kirk Edwards, the former Barbados Pride captain and WINDIES batsman, hit the top score of 55 that included four fours and two sixes from 98 balls in two hours of batting. He shared 76 for third wicket either side of lunch with Kavem Hodge that carried the visitors 142 for two.

But Khan made the breakthrough, when he had Hodge caught close to the wicket for 37 to trigger a collapse that saw the Volcanoes lose all but one of their last eight wickets to the leg-spinner for 64.

Opener Tarryck Gabriel made 30, Shillingford got 25 and Alick Athanaze added 20 for the visitors.

Pride (167) vs Scorpions 102-0

Campbell smote nine fours and one six in an unbeaten 67 from 94 balls in just over two hours before stumps were drawn to give the Scorpions a strong start to their reply to the modest Pride first innings total.

Campbell reached his 50, when he swung a delivery from part-time off-spinner Kraigg Brathwaite to deep backward square leg for four, and with Chadwick Walton, not out on 19, batted through untroubled to the close.

Choosing to bat, the Pride never fully recovered, after Brathwaite, the WINDIES Test opener, was caught behind off Derval Green for a third-ball duck in the first over of the match.

Green followed up with scalps of left-handed opener Shayne Moseley lbw for one in the fifth over and Pride captain Shamark Brooks caught in the slips for three in the ninth over to leave the home team wobbling on 16 for three.

Long-standing left-hander Jonathan Carter led a fight-back with the top score of 51 that included five fours from 116 balls in 139 minutes and shared 66 for the fourth wicket with Aaron Jones.

But once Jones fell to spinner Dennis Bulli for 28, there was token resistance from the rest of the Pride batting, as Miller got into stride ending with 4-53 from 24 overs.

Green snared 3-10 from 5.1 overs before pulling up and Bulli finished with 2-50 from 13 overs.