Over 500 runs were scored in the opening match of the NAGICO Super50 on Thursday as Jamaica overcame Keddy Lesporis’ maiden regional ton to edge defending champions Windward Islands by 14 runs in their Zone A encounter at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.
St Lucian Lesporis hit an unbeaten 100 for the Windwards as they gave Jamaica a scare towards the end of the match.
After allowing the Jamaicans to recover from 35 for three to post 282 for five, the Windwards led by Lesporis’ hundred and a patient 52 from Devon Smith, came close to their target before falling agonisingly short.
Their chase got off to a rocket start with an aggressive opening stand between Smith and Johnson Charles who put on 62 runs off 12 overs before Man-of-the-Match Tamar Lambert and left-arm spinner Nikita Miller pulled the game back for the Jamaicans.
Charles hit seven fours in a 33-ball 40 before finding John Campbell in the covers in the 12th over.
Number three batsman Tyrone Theophille was out in the next over, caught off the bowling of Lambert as the Jamaicans took control.
Smith played patiently for his 52 off 88 balls, putting on 52 with Lesporis before falling to Nkrumah Bonner with the score on 149 with 19 overs left.
Lesporis kept the fight going, putting on 53 for the ninth wicket with Mervin Mathew as the Windwards came close. They needed three sixes off the final three balls, but Andre Richardson bowled a good last over to ensure the Jamaicans came out on top.
Lesporis hit 11 fours and two sixes in his 98-ball knock, while Mathew hit four fours in his unbeaten 25 off 15 balls.
Earlier, the Jamaicans found themselves in trouble after winning the toss and electing to bat first as right-arm pacer Mathew sent back the top three batsmen inside the first ten overs.
Mathew had opener Horace Miller caught in the slips before Tyrone Theophille took a diving catch at third man to remove Campbell.
Nkrumah Bonner was Mathew’s third victim as the right handed batsmen tried to cut one that came back into him and got an edge to the wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher.
Jamaica continued at a slow pace, with Lambert and Andre McCarthy salvaging the innings with a 179-run stand for the fourth wicket which swung the momentum back to the Jamaicans.
Lambert faced 99 balls for his 88, hitting ten fours and one six before he edged one to the keeper off Johnson in the 44th over, having taken the score to 211.
McCarthy faced 124 balls for his 93 which included ten fours and two sixes, and looked set to score the first ton of the tournament, but he chased a Garey Mathurin delivery outside off-stump and guided the ball to substitute fielder Craig Emmanuel who took a diving catch at point with three overs left in the innings.
“You batting and you find the team 30- something for three and as a senior player, you have to bat through the innings and I thought me and McCarthy really batted well through the middle part of the innings,” said Lambert after the game.
“I just advised him (McCarthy) to just keeping rotating the strike and push the ball into the outfield and sooner or later our time will come and I thought in the middle part our time really came and we really pushed them. We were about to step on it, accelerate and really get up to a very good total.”
A quick 50-run partnership between Andre Russell and Carlton Baugh finished off the Jamaican comeback.
Russell hit three fours and two sixes in his 16-ball 28 while Baugh smashed five fours in his 13-ball 28 as they finished the innings with a bang, hitting 45 runs from the final three overs.
After the game, Lesporis said he was happy with his knock but felt his team should have restricted the Jamaicans to a lower score.
“Things were flowing for me. It was a huge target we needed to keep up the pace but I think we had too many dot balls in the middle and I think they scored too much runs,” said Lesporis.
“Wickets kept falling at the other end. I needed a little bit of help but it did not work for us. We have two games to go. They are must-win games for us, so hopefully the guys can come back and do better,” he added.
The Windward Islands batsman credited the extra work he did at the High Performance Centre for his success.
“It was a lot of hard work and I was satisfied. It was my first regional century and I am looking forward to more and hopefully the Windwards will reach the semi-finals and go on to win the title again,” he added.
The Super50 continues today at the Oval with the Leeward Islands taking on the Combined Campuses and Colleges in the opening match of Zone B from 2 p.m, while Trinidad and Tobago start their campaign against Barbados tomorrow from 2 p.m. at the same venue.