ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – A brilliant, unbroken century stand between Gavin Tonge and Yannick Leonard helped Leeward Islands pull off a thrilling run chase and beat Guyana by five wickets here yesterday.
Chasing 279 for victory, the Leewards reached their target for the loss of five wickets, late in the second session on the final day of their sixth round contest in the Regional Four-Day Championship.
Tonge, more known for his right-arm seam, stroked a gutsy, unbeaten 57 while Leonard, a specialist left-arm spinner, supported with 37 not out, in a sixth wicket partnership worth 101.
It carried the Leewards from what looked like certain defeat at 178 for five to an unlikely victory a few hours later at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
The run chase was, however, set up by Devon Thomas who stroked a superb 90 while Jahmar Hamilton got 54, in a 140-run, fourth wicket stand. When both fell, the Leewards still had much to do avoid their fourth defeat of the season but Tonge and Leonard crowned themselves heroes.
The win was only their second in five outings in the tournament, moving them to 40 points. They remained fifth in the standings, however.
Starting the day on 101 for three, still in need of a further 178 to win, the odds were on Guyana, especially considering the Leewards’ recent batting form.
Much rested on Thomas, on 38 and Hamilton, 34, and they both put their hands down to keep Guyana wicket-less inside the first hour. In the meantime, Thomas completed his seventh first class half-century, reaching the mark off 80 balls in the eighth over of the morning.
With a second first class century in sight, however, Thomas was finally prised out by left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, half-hour before lunch at 168 for four. He faced 128 balls in 168 minutes at the crease and struck 15 boundaries.
Hamilton, who had reached his half-century off 131 deliveries, perished ten runs later after facing ten more balls, gloving off-spinner Mohamed Shadir to wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble down the leg-side.
Tonge and Leonard saw the Leewards to lunch at 189 for five and fought gallantly afterward to keey Guyana at bay. Tonge, dropped on 20, went on to face 99 balls in just over 2-1/2 hours at the crease while counting three fours and two sixes.
Leonard gamely followed his lead, hitting four boundaries off 118 balls in two hours and 39 minutes at the wicket.
When Tonge reached his fifth first class fifty off 95 balls, the Leewards were well in sight of victory at 263 for five, and they duly completed the formalities to condemn Guyana to their fourth loss in five games this season.