Half-centuries from Trinidad and Tobago left-handed batsmen Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo threatened to take the game away from the Leeward Islands and it took a very rare mode of dismissal to separate the two.
Lewis, playing his fifth first-class game, hit his maiden half century—78-- while Bravo reached his 20th –60-- as the pair put on 105 for the second wicket, taking the hosts from 56 for one to 161 before the momentum shifted in the Leewards’ favour when Lewis was given out for handling the ball just before tea on the first day of the Regional Four-Day championships day/night game at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain on Friday.
After that, Jonathan Augustus played his natural aggressive game to score a half-century—61— on debut. However, by the end of the day’s play the match was still evenly poised.
T&T closed on 263 for six as the Leewards clawed their way back in the final session when they took the second new ball.
The home side lost three wickets in the final 13 overs of the day, including debutant Augustus who was the last wicket to go.
Earlier, Lewis looked set to reach triple figures despite being given a few chances before he was eventually given out as he played a defensive shot against off-spinner Justin Athanaze with the ball bouncing on the ground in front of him.
The batsman caught the ball as it bounced back up and then dropped it back onto the ground. The Leeward Islands fielders appealed and the umpires consulted and sent Lewis on his way.
Lewis did not hesitate in walking off the field.
He said afterwards that “At the end of the day, you have to accept the umpires’ decision.
“I just accepted it and walked off. No grudges,” Lewis said with a smile as he entered the team bus.
Though he was disappointed with the way he departed, he was happy to lead his team to a good position.
He said: “I feel a little disappointed. I was batting so well but that is the nature of the game we play and that is how it went. I just have to take that and learn from my mistakes and move on.
The Leeward Islands pacers were also getting the pink ball to swing and Lewis said patience was the key for him in his first first-class innings under lights playing with the pink ball. Lewis faced 165 balls for his top score, hitting 11 fours and a six.
“The ball was moving around a lot so it was just a matter of being patient and playing the right ball at the right time,” he said.
“First time for me, it was very difficult. The ball was swinging around a lot. It was a matter of getting your technique right and getting your eyes behind the ball and backing yourself, and when the ball comes to play your shots, you just play your shots” he added.
After Lewis departed, Bravo did not stick around very long as he fell lbw in the first over after tea to give Kieran Powell his first wicket in first-class cricket. Bravo faced 141 balls and hit four fours and two sixes.
Augustus stole the show after that, dominating a 65-run stand with Jason Mohammed (22) for the fourth wicket.
He smashed 12 fours in his 66-ball knock to ensure T&T did not suffer a batting collapse.
Of his innings, Augustus said: “We got off to a good start and I just went out there and played positive which is my game.
“I was just being positive and the balls were in my areas and I just felt that if it was there to go to the boundary, it had to go to the boundary,” he added.
Augustus was eventually lbw to pacer Gavin Tonge in the 90th over and said it was “a little lack of concentration coming down to the end,” that caused his downfall.
Asked about Lewis’ dismissal, Augustus said: “Unfortunately it is a rule of cricket but I thought the captain could have looked at it differently but he has all obligations to appeal and at the end of the day that is how it goes sometimes.
“It did shift the momentum because Bravo and Evin were set for two big scores but they (the Leewards) got a little break and they took the opportunity and got themselves back in the game but we still carried on, Jason and I batted well but unfortunately we just got out towards the end,” Augustus added.
Mohammed fell in the first over with the second new ball while Imran Khan edged to second slip before Augustus departed.
Steven Katwarroo and Akeal Hosein closed out the night unbeaten on one and zero respectively with all-rounders Rayad Emrit and Yannic Cariah and pacer Shannon Gabriel to come.
T&T vs Leeward Islands
T&T 1st Inns
A Barath c wkpr Hamilton b Athanaze 24
E Lewis handled ball 78
DM Bravo lbw b K Powell 60
J Mohammed c wkp Hamilton b Willett 22
J Augustus lbw b Tonge 61
I Khan c Thomas b Willett 2
S Katwaroo not out 1
A Hosein not out 0
Extras (B4, LB5, NB6) 15
TOTAL (for six wickets, 93 overs) 263
To bat: Y.Cariah, R.Emrit, S.Gabriel.
Wickets at: 1-56, 2-161, 3-178, 4-243, 5-261, 6-261.
Bowling: Tonge 19-6-42-1, Willett 19-4-51-2, Martin 14-1-47-0, Athanaze 21-8-30-1, Walsh 15-0-64-0, Powell 5-1-20-1.
LEEWARDS – K Powell (captain), J Athanaze, J Hamilton, S Joseph, A Martin, M Richards, L Richardson, D Thomas, Gavin Tonge, Hayden Walsh Jr, Tonito Willett.