Jamaica edge Leewards in 4-Day thriller

CricketFilePhotoFBasseterre, St Kitts – Jamaica kept their composure at a most crucial hour to edge the Leeward Islands in a modern-day classic, Regional 4-Day tournament climax at Warner Park.

It’s the type of match that breathes indomitable life into the longest format of the game, whether be it at First Class or Test level. Either way, this was the perfect match for neutrals watching via windiescricket.com, Jamaicans following live updates @WindiesRegional back in Kingston and beyond, or the local supporters that turned out to see the hosts play.

The match could have swung anyway at the start of the fourth and final day. Captain Kieran Powell and wicket-keeper, Devon Thomas were both at the crease, sharing in an unbroken stand of 77 runs.

Resuming on 53, Thomas continued solidly batting on the final morning. Powell also looked quite good as both batsmen continued to build a competitive lead that the Jamaicans would eventually have to chase as their target.

Thomas seemed in line for a century, but when on 94, he made an error in judgement, playing back and across to Jamie Merchant, and was out Leg Before Wicket. It brought an end to his two-hour long stay at the crease. He had faced 127 balls, hitting 11 fours and a six.

The wicket brought another quick one for the Jamaicans who battled back to try to dismiss the hosts. Powell seemed the only obstacle in their way. He too, seemed on course for a century, but he too, would fall short.

On 86, he danced down the track to Nikita Miller, who tossed the ball up, only to not make contact, and Carlton Baugh did the rest in dislodging the bails. Powell had batted for 235 balls, hitting ten boundaries.

The Leewards would eventually fold for 246, setting Jamaica a target of 218 runs for victory. They had a first innings deficit of 29 runs to pay. John Campbell followed up his first innings century with 4-15.

Jamaica lost Horace Miller early in their chase but Campbell and Nkrumah Bonner built a crucial second wicket partnership. They took the visitors to Tea on 67/1, with one session remaining in the match. Jamaica needed 151 runs from 26 overs, which were left in the day’s play.

The Leewards struck with the wicket of Bonner (30) soon into the final session of the match. Then Campbell (43) followed him and Jamaica were in trouble at 90/3. That soon became four wickets down as Jamaica captain, Tamar Lambert, failed to fire.

Promoted up the order, Jerome Taylor made a quick 24 that would help the visitors’ push for victory. He didn’t stay long though and the match got more tense as the night wore on and wickets fell at regular intervals.

Jermaine Blackwood had played a key role in anchoring the latter part of the chase, getting to 19 runs. When he was out, Baugh took over that role. But the balls just kept lowering as quickly as runs required decreased. The game had come down mighty close.

Needing ten runs from 12 balls, Merchant hit a massive six then back-drove then straight down the ground for four to take the Jamaicans home by three wickets. The Leewards couldn’t believe it. They had been on the losing end of a thriller.

Summarized Scores:

Leeward Islands 1st Innings: 205/6 (90 Overs). Kieran Powell* 91, Tonito Willett 51*, Hayden Walsh Junior 20*, Mali Richards 17; Tamar Lambert 16-8-24-2, Andrew Richardson 18-3-34-2, Jerome Taylor 17-5-33-2, Jamie Merchant 9-6-12-0.

Jamaica 1st Innings: 351 All Out (106.5 Overs). John Campbell 110, Dave Bernard Jr 45*, Tamar Lambert* 37, Nkrumah Bonner 24; Anthony Martin 36-9-77-4, Gavin Tonge 20.5-3-65-3, Kelbert Walters 21-4-68-2, Tonito Willett 18-6-70-1.

Leeward Islands 2nd Innings: 117/3 (37 Overs). Devon Thomas 94, Kieran Powell* 86, Tonito Willett 21, Mali Richards 11; John Campbell 8.5-1-15-4, Andrew Richardson 2-1-5-1, Jerome Taylor 11-3-38-1.

Jamaica 2nd Innings: 218/7 (37.5 Overs). John Campbell 43, Dave Bernard Jnr 30, Nrkumah Bonner 30, Carlton Baugh Jnr 27*; Anthony Martin 15-0-66-2, Kelbert Walters 11.5-0-70-2, Gavin Tonge 8-0-58-2, Tonito Willett 3-0-19-0.

Jamaica won by 3 wickets

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