PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – West Indies A pacer Delorn Johnson produced a sharp, late burst, to rock Trinidad and Tobago and give Windward Islands the advantage on the opening day of their Headley/Weekes Trophy semi-final here yesterday.
The left-armer finished with finished with two for ten as T&T staggered to the close on 36 for three, still 212 runs adrift of first innings lead in the crucial contest at Queen’s Park Oval.
Windward Islands had earlier fought back from a shaky start to chalk up 248 all out, after they were sent in by their hosts. Romel Currency extended his decent run of form with a top score of 68, Sunil Ambris got 44 while captain Liam Sebastien chipped in with 40.
Keddy Lesporis (39) and Tyrone Theophile (30) got starts but failed to carry on as leg-spinner Imran Khan ran through the middle and lower to finish with four for 59 while left-arm spinner Ricky Jaipaul (2-34) and pacer Shannon Gabriel (2-35) picked up two wickets apiece.
This appeared to give the home side the advantage and when openers Lendl Simmons hit four fours in a 16-ball 19 to propel them to 33 without loss off just five overs, T&T were definitely on top in the game.
However, Johnson struck twice with the first two balls of his third over, to leave T&T in strife. Firstly, he had Simmons caught by Mervyn Matthew at deep midwicket pulling a short ball and then claimed the prized wicket of West Indies left-hander Darren Bravo, caught at third slip by Lesporis, off the first ball he faced.
The Windwards quickly turned the screws and with one run added five overs later, off-spinner Sebastien prised out nightwatchman Marlon Richards for two, to leave T&T in disarray.
Opener Evin Lewis, unbeaten on ten, and Jason Mohammed who is yet to score, will carry T&T’s fight on Sunday’s second day.
Earlier, the Windwards had experienced similar panic when prolific opener Devon Smith dragged the first ball of the day from Gabriel onto his stumps to depart without a run on the board.
Gabriel then also had Johnson Charles taken at second slip by Lewis for eight and Theophile stroked seven fours in a breezy 38-ball knock before he was disposed of by first change seamer Richards, to leave the Windwards on 49 for three.
Ambris and Lesporis then patched up the innings with a fourth wicket stand of 63 that kept T&T’s bowlers in check for the last hour of the session.
The right-handed Ambris faced 91 balls and struck two fours and two sixes in an hour-and-a-half at the crease while Lesporis, also a right-hander, counted five fours and a six in a cameo 44-ball innings.
They were on the verge of taking the Windwards to the safety of lunch when Lesporis was bowled around his legs by Khan, at 112 for four, to hasten the interval.
Ambris was then run out in the sixth over after lunch to leave the Windwards on 136 for five but Sebastien and Currency joined forces to add a precious 90 for the sixth wicket.
Currency’s top score came from 120 balls in 2-1/2 hours, and included nine fours while Sebastien hung around for two hours, faced 104 balls and notched four fours.
They carried the Windwards to tea at 202 for five but Sebastien’s demise at the hands of Khan about 40 minutes after the break triggered a collapse that saw the last five wickets fall for 22 runs.