Sunday was a day of patient resistance from the Leeward Islands led by their skipper Kieran Powell.
After they were dismissed for 113 in their first innings early on the third day of the Regional Four-day Championship day/night game against Trinidad and Tobago at Queen’s Park Oval, Powell acknowledged that victory was beyond their reach but they did not give up hope of a draw as they closed on 159 for six.
He battled for over five hours, resisting the urge to attack, preferring to defend, deflect and nudge the ball around for whatever runs he could get, which amounted to his third half century in four innings.
The left-hander led from the front with 67 off 244 balls in a marathon innings that lasted 318 minutes, spanning almost the entire day’s play.
He hit five fours, bringing up his half-century late in the day. But runs did not matter for the Leewards, they were playing for time.
“We just needed to bat and bat as long as possible.”
That was their plan said Powell after his long innings.
“Obviously trailing by 350 (after our first innings), we can’t really win the game from here, so we were just trying to bat as long as possible and take the game into the fourth day and try to get a draw,” he explained.
T&T had made 458 for seven declared in their first innings.
T&T finally saw Powell’s back in the final over of the day, the third with the second new ball, when the Leewards skipper edged a lifting delivery from Shannon Gabriel to wicketkeeper Steven Katwaroo with the visitors still trailing by 186 runs.
For Powell, it wasn’t hard to stick to the game plan especially against a T&T bowling attack that didn’t look threatening for the majority of the day.
“It was quite easy actually. Obviously it was just blocking, it does not take really much energy working off deflections. So I think it was not that difficult. It was just more about keeping focus on the task at hand,” Powell told the Express.
Only T&T leg-spinner Imran khan caused some nervous moments for the visitors, but those were few and far between.
Khan is the most experienced spinner in the T&T line-up and made that count, sending back Jahmar Hamilton for 52 to end the Leeward Islands first innings with two wickets for 12 runs off 4.1 overs before picking up three more wickets for 29 runs in 18 overs in the second innings.
The other spinners in the squad were leg-spinner Yannic Cariah, left-hand spinner Akeal Hosein and part-time off-spinner Jason Mohammed.
T&T were short though after Hosein sat out most of the third day with a left thigh injury. Cariah bowled 17 overs for 32 runs while Mohammed sent down 18 overs for 16 runs.
Shannon Gabriel also had an extended spell on day three, making good use of the new ball. He sent back Leewards opener Lyndel Richardson in the fifth over with the first new ball before returning late in the night to remove Powell in the third over with the second new ball.
Although the Leewards were being defensive, T&T also had to maintain their focus and be ready to take whatever chances came their way.
“We just stuck to the basics, try and build pressure and we knew chances would come,” said Khan.
Khan created a few chances as Mali Richards (14 off 73 balls) edged one to Darren Bravo in the slips to break a second wicket partnership of 43 which spanned close to 25 overs.
The spinner also broke the fifth wicket partnership of 59 between Powell and Hamilton when the latter was trapped lbw for 23 off 98 balls. That partnership lasted more than 30 overs and was broken with about 30 minutes left in the day’s play to keep T&T interested.
When he had the ball, he said sticking to the team plan was top priority.
“We out them down cheaply in the first innings but we knew it would not happen so easily in the second innings. It was a bit tough but the guys stuck to their task,” Khan added.