HAVING grabbed themselves a lifeline on Wednesday when they opened their account on the Caribbean T20 points standings with a close 12-run win over Windward Islands, Jamaica will be keen to avoid an upset Leeward Islands today at Queen's Park Oval from 4 p.m.
For the Leewards it's also a crucial clash; a nine-wicket loss to Barbados and a 95-run walloping at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago leaves them on the brink of a tournament exit. Another heavy defeat could render their matches in St Lucia purely academic.
Jamaica's start to the tournament was promising after they restricted T&T to 128 for nine before rain put paid to their own innings on Sunday. Then they fell to Barbados by five wickets after posting a 2013-low total of 72.
They will be hoping their batsmen, including under-fire skipper Tamar Lambert, can support their battling bowling attack this time against the Leewards, who will be still smarting from their losses.
The Jamaicans could just as easily have been hanging on for dear life at this point but for the timely intervention of Lambert, whose unassuming slow bowling prised out three Windwards wickets in the 11th over in a match reduced to 17 overs after rain intervened for almost an hour.
Before then, at the halfway stage, Windwards were 64 for two, and after Keddy Lesporis (19, two fours; caught at point), Windies captain Darren Sammy (bowled; first-ball duck) and Miles Bascombe (lbw; second-ball duck) were dismissed in the space of five balls, they could not muster a successful charge to the victory target.
Opener Johnson Charles (14) and veteran left-hander Devon Smith had been previously dismissed, but even then, Windwards were looking good for the win.
Lambert's second over was not as impressive as he conceded eight unrewarded runs, but he brought back Dave Bernard Jr, and Krishmar Santokie towards the death, the former prizing out top-scorer Andre Fletcher (one six) for 26 off 34 balls, before the latter bowled Shane Shillingford (five) and Garey Mathurin (duck) to ensure there was not another defeat.
The battling Lindon James ended unbeaten on 24.
Jamaica's own batting effort was hardly impressive. Openers Nkrumah Bonner and John Campbell (both nine) failed to impress, and Lambert (16) was settling before he offered Liam Sebastien a return catch.
Danza Hyatt was the one bright spark with 44 (35 balls), as he easily cleared the ropes, carting Shillingford for two sixes, and Sebastien and Mathurin for one each.
When he offered gloveman James an edge off Mathurin, neither Andre Russell (run out for eight; one six) nor Bernard (four not out) could accelerate the tailend of the innings.
Today, Jamaica will be hoping they can do much better against the Leewards.
Jamaica Inns (17 overs maximum)
N Bonner c Johnson b Shillingford 9
J Campbell c Johnson b Mathurin 9
T Lambert c&b Sebastien 16
D Hyatt c James b Mathurin 44
A McCarthy run out (James) 19
A Russell run out (Johnson) 8
D Bernard not out 4
EXTRAS: (LB2, W5) 7
TOTAL (for six wickets; 17 overs) 116
Did not bat: Nikita Miller, Odean Brown, Krishmar Santokie, Aldane Thomas.
Wickets at: 19 (Campbell), 34 (Bonner), 51 (Lambert), 102 (Hyatt), 112 (McCarthy), 116 (Russell)
BOWLING: Johnson 3-0-28-0 (3w); Mathurin 4-0-18-2; Sammy 4-0-22-0, Sebastien 3-0-19-1 (2w); Shillingford 3-0-27-1.
Windward Islands Inns
J Charles b Santokie 14
A Fletcher b Bernard 26
D Smith c Russell b Bernard 6
K Lesporis c Campbell b Lambert 19
D Sammy b Lambert 0
M Bascombe lbw b Lambert 0
L James not out 24
D Johnson c&b Russell 1
S Shillingford b Santokie 5
G Mathurin b Santokie 0
L Sebastien not out 2
EXTRAS: (B1, LB3, W3) 7
TOTAL: (for nine wickets; 17 overs) 104
Wickets at: 18 (Charles), 25 (Smith), 65 (Lesporis), 66 (Sammy), 66 (Bascombe), 80 (Fletcher), 89 (Johnson), 100 (Shillingford), 100 (Mathurin).
BOWLING: Santokie 4-0-24-3 (1w); Bernard 4-0-25-2; Miller 2-0-13-0; Russell 3-0-16-1; Brown 2-0-12-0 (2w); Lambert 2-0-10-3.
Result: Jamaica won by 12 runs
Points: Jamaica 4, Windward Islands 0
Twenty20 debut: AM McCarthy (Jamaica)
Man-of-the-Match: Tamar Lambert (Jamaica)