NORTH SOUND, Antigua, CMC – Tonito Willett’s half-century propped up the Leeward Islands but Guyana were making a strong reply at close of play on the opening day of the first round of matches in the Regional Four-Day Championship here yesterday.
The right-hander hit a top score of 58 which helped pull the Leewards around from a shaky position of 61 for five and steer them to 182 all out at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
At the close, Guyana had made good headway to reach 37 without loss, with Rajindra Chandrika unbeaten on 32.
Sent in on an encouraging pitch, the Leewards were in early turmoil at 27 for three after Austin Richards (11), Orlando Peters (1) and Steve Liburd (1) all departed cheaply with fast bowler Ronsford Beaton (3-43) taking two of the wickets to fall.
Opener Montcin Hodge, who struck 22 from 57 balls with three fours, added 34 for the fourth wicket with seasoned campaigner and captain Sylvester Joseph (15) to halt the slide.
However, both batsmen fell with the score on 61 to leave the Leewards in another hole, leaving Willett to perform his rescue mission.
The 30-year-old combined with Jahmar Hamilton, who made 32, to put on 47 for the sixth wicket. He added a further 28 for the eighth wicket with tail-ender Gavin Tonge (3) and another 36 for the ninth wicket with former West Indies fast bowler Lionel Baker (13).
Overall, Willett faced 157 balls in three hours and seven minutes at the crease and struck five fours. Hamilton, meanwhile, hit five boundaries in an innings that lasted just under an hour-and-a-half, and which consumed 78 balls.
Left-arm spinner and captain Veerasammy Permaul, who took four for 42, made key strikes to erode the Leewards’ gains before West Indies leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo claimed the precious wicket of Willett at 182 for nine.