Guyana’s Under-19 cricketers closed the second day of their opening West Indies Cricket Board three-day match against the Leeward Islands with an outright victory in sight after a day in which they thoroughly dominated the visitors at the Providence National Stadium.
Resuming on their overnight score of 159 for 3 with the first innings lead already intact, Guyana declared their first innings at 317 for 9 for a lead of 210 runs.
Batting a second time the Leewards were staring down the barrel of an outright defeat reaching 112 for 6, still needing a further 98 runs to make the Guyanese bat again.
The day’s play which was witnessed by West Indies legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul and his son and upcoming batting talent Tagenarine Chanderpaul, commenced with the weather being unkind as rain caused 97 minutes being lost in the first session in which Guyana had progressed to 171 for 3 with Chanderpaul Hemraj and vice-captain Kwame Crosse on 88 and 34 runs respectively at that stage.
Play eventually resumed at 1:30 pm in the afternoon session by which time 144 minutes had already been lost for the day, and Hemraj eagerly anticipating a century.
But he was to be disappointed, as in the first over after the resumption, he pulled a full-toss from off-spinner Shaquille Martina into the hands of mid-wicket for 88 from 168 balls with 11 boundaries to end an impressive 117-run fourth-wicket partnership with Crosse with the score on 171 for 4.
Berbician Jamal La Fleur then joined Crosse and made a quick fire 10 before offering a timid caught and bowl chance to Leewards captain Cornwall which was duly accepted with the score on 190 for 5 in the 74th over.
In the next over Crosse was dropped at first slip on 42, via the bowling of Cornwall who was proving to be a handful with his innocuous non-turning off-spin bowling.
Soon after Crosse brought up a very patient half-century from 163 deliveries in 231 minutes with five boundaries and the Guyana 200 in the 76th over.
The Leewards took the new-ball in the 78th over and Crosse greeted the first delivery from medium pacer Nino Henry with a spanking arrow-straight off-drive to the boundary. The unfortunate Henry was soon taken out of the attack by umpire Gyanandad Sukhdeo for running on the pitch over the three penalty limit.
Crosse at this stage was beginning to move into second gear after he crossed his half-century (pun intended). But the trend of soft-dismissals for the day continued as Crosse tried to lift medium pacer Chavil Archibald over mid-on, but he miscued his drive and gifted an easy catch to Larry Audin for 61 with the score on 226.
With the lead now 119, the Guyana coaching staff sent in all-rounder Clinton Pestano for a pinch hitting role, and he did his task very well with a counter-attacking 43 from 50 balls with five boundaries and a towering a six into the players’ pavilion as he took Guyana past the 150-run lead mark.
Meanwhile, Cornwall, during the Pestano assault claimed the wickets of Anthony Adams leg-before wicket to a ball that was seemingly going down leg and Khan caught at cover, driving aerial by Duane Webbe with the scores on 261 and 271 respectively, as the skipper closed in on a surprise five-wicket haul.
At this stage the Leewards would have been hoping to keep the Guyanese below the daunting 200-run lead mark. But Guyana captain Ronsford Beaton strode to the crease and showed clearly he is better than a number 10, given he was batting in the top six for Essequibo in the recently-concluded local under-19 competition a few weeks ago. He took Guyana beyond that 200-run mark with an aggressive 39 which comprised three power-blows into the stands, in an unbeaten 46-run last wicket partnership with Gudakesh Motie-Kanhai whose contribution was a meager eight runs.
Guyana eventually declared just before tea at 3:20 pm and batting a second time, the Leewards immediately found themselves in early trouble as the tentative looking Webbe was hit on his shoulder by a rising delivery by Beaton that clearly softened him up.
Three balls later he was bowled ball neck-and-crop for duck, with his feet rooted to the crease.
Guyana continued to chip away at the Leewards top-order. Their heavily built skipper Cornwall, batted himself down the order.
The Leewards were reduced to 55-4 in the 20th over when star spinner Amir Khan claimed his first victim of the second innings with Audin departing leg before wicket.
Cornwall eventually strode to crease at number 6 and joined his vice-captain Akeem Saunders and with 10 minutes to go before close of play they were seemingly easing the pressure on the Leewards reply with a 55- run partnership with both batsmen going over the top against the quartet of Guyanese spinners.
However just as it seemed that these two batsmen were going to take the Leewards to close without any further loss, Saunders tried to slog-sweep left-arm spinner Motie-Kanhai over mid-wicket for his second six, but ended up top-edging his slog straight up into the air and the ball fell into the hands of Adams at mid-on.
Guyana then closed up a brilliant all-round day when promoted night watchman Cleon Reece of the last ball of the day was caught at forward short leg by Dominc Rikki diving forward off the bowling of Khan.
This left the Leewards looking down the barrel of defeat on the final day, unless their skipper Cornwall can produce a one-man miracle recovery mission.