Openers rally Red Force after Singh, Johnson fortify Jaguars

– 2nd day, 4th round

TAROUBA, Trinidad, CMC – Openers Kyle Hope and Amir Jangoo gave Trinidad Red Force a solid start to their reply, after Vishaul Singh hit his second hundred of the season and shared a record stand with fellow century-maker Leon Johnson that put Guyana Jaguars in an impregnable position in their top-of-the-table Regional 4-Day Championship match on Friday.

Left-hander Jangoo was not out on 32 and West Indies batsman Hope was not out on 18, as the Red Force reached 51 without loss, replying to the Jaguars first innings total of 484 for eight declared, at the close on the second day of their day/night, key fourth-round battle at the Brian Lara Cricket Ground.

The pair batted through 19 overs in an hour-and-a-half before stumps were drawn to give Red Force hope for a bright third day, after Singh made an even 100 – his eighth first-class hundred – to become the second century-maker of the innings behind Johnson, whose 165 helped to propel Jaguars to a declaration just over an hour before the scheduled close.

Vishaul Singh batted impressively for his eighth first-class hundred. (File photo)

The pint-sized Singh reached his landmark from 210 balls, when he drove veteran leg-spinner Imran Khan to long-off for a single before he became the first scalp for off-spinner Bryan Charles, whose 5-134 in 43 overs made him the pick of the Red Force bowlers on an unresponsive pitch.

Singh has reeled off scores of 119, 8 not out, 97 and 34 prior to this innings after he missed the first match of the season, due to his involvement with the West Indies “A” Team in their three “Test” home series against Sri Lanka “A”.

He put on 183 with Johnson, establishing a new Jaguars third-wicket record against Red Force in the modern era of the West Indies first-class championship (1966 onwards) to eclipse the previous mark of 179 shared between legendary, former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd and another former Windies batsman Len Baichan 44 years ago at Skeldon in Guyana.

Starting the day on 245 for two, the Jaguars reached 315 without further loss at the first interval, as Johnson continued to bat resolutely and Singh reached his 50 from 128 balls just before the break.

After the interval, Singh and Johnson continued to grind the Red Force bowlers to achieve their personal milestones before Charles opened the floodgates.

He had Singh, whose 211-ball innings in close to 4 ¼ hours was adorned by seven fours, caught behind from a dab in the over after the left-hander reached his hundred.

Charles then trapped wicketkeeper/batsman Anthony Bramble lbw for a duck two balls later before removing Johnson, following his marathon innings that included 18 boundaries from 359 balls in close to 8 ¼ hours, and veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul in successive overs to leave the visitors on 402 for six.

Jaguars reached 417 for six at the second interval, as Keemo Paul, the former Windies Under-19 all-rounder, and Sherfane Rutherford lifted the tempo with a few lusty hits.

But Paul and Rutherford fell within five overs of each other after the break before Veerasammy Permaul with a typically effervescent 31 and fellow left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie hastened the declaration with an unbroken stand of 39.

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