Trinidad and Tobago continued their struggle against the Windward Islands yesterday, slipping to 52 for five in their second innings on the second day of the four-day fixture at Arnos Vale, St Vincent.
The Windwards won first innings points thanks to Devon Smith's 99 and Tyronne Theophile's 70 as the pair put on a 124-run opening stand before T&T clawed their way back.
Pacer Ravi Rampaul grabbed five for 65 and leg-spinner Yannic Cariah snatched four for 39 to bring T&T back into the match as the Windwards slipped to 260 all out, giving the hosts an 81-run first innings lead.
But the T&T batsmen were unable to capitalise on the chance their bowlers worked so hard to give them.
A couple of poor shots in the last hour saw T&T lose their five top-order batsmen and by the time play ended on day two, they were still 29 runs behind.
With skipper Denesh Ramdin at the wicket and all-rounder Yannic Cariah and Rayad Emrit still to come, T&T still have a chance to pull it back but that will be a difficult task to accomplish.
After they dismissed T&T for 179 on the first day, the Windwards made a strong reply yesterday, reaching 124 without loss in the first session before Rampaul struck.
Three quick wickets from the pacer in one over before lunch and T&T went into the break with smiles on their faces but the Windwards were already on course to clinch first innings points.
Rampaul broke the threatening opening stand between Smith and Theophile with his first delivery after he was brought back into the attack from the Northern End.
Theophile became Rampaul's first victim, caught by wicketkeeper Ramdin.
Rampaul and Ramdin combined again to send back Andre Fletcher for zero before the West Indies Test bowler bowled Hector, also for zero with no change to the score.
The T&T pacer was at it again after the break, sending back skipper Liam Sebastien for 22 but Smith was still there and he made the difference as the host took a first innings lead.
Without taking too many risks, Smith was within sight of his third consecutive century of the competition but he was denied by Cariah with the score on 214.
Cariah got two more quick wickets before tea as the Windwards slipped to 228 for seven.
The leg-spinner, who only became part of the T&T squad due to a last-minute injury to Marlon Barclay, returned after the break to get his fourth scalp in Nelon Pascal.
After that, Delorn Johnson and Dalton Polius put on 26 runs to get the first innings lead to 81 before Rampaul returned to complete his five wicket haul, sending back Johnson for 17.
T&T's batsmen continued to struggle in their second innings with Kenroy Peters and Johnson grabbing two each before Garey Mathurin got Adrian Barath late in the day's play to put his team in the driver's seat.
T&T will need some inspirational batting from their skipper and the other batsmen to come if they are to post a competitive score for the Windwards to chase and with two day's left, patience will be the key for Ramdin's men.
Windward Islands vs T&T
T&T 1st Inns 179
Windwards 1st Inns (O/N 24-0)
D Smith b Cariah 99
T Theophile c wkpr Ramdin b Rampaul 70
A Fletcher c wkpr Ramdin b Rampaul 0
D Hector b Rampaul 0
L Sebastien c Gabriel b Rampaul 22
D Polius not out
L James lbw Jaggernauth 7
G Mathurin lbw Cariah 0
K Peters c Ramdin b Cariah 0
N Pascal c Guillen b Cariah 1
D Johnson c Cariah b Johnson 17
EXTRAS: (NB1, W5, B2, LB4) 12
TOTAL (all out; 78.5 overs) 260
Wickets at: 124 (Theophile), 124 (Fletcher), 124 (Hector), 168 (Sebastien), 214 (Smith), 227 (James), 228 (Mathurin), 228 (Peters), 234 (Pascal), 260 (Johnson)
BOWLING: Jaggernauth 27-6-71-1; Rampaul 19.5-6-65-5 (3w); Gabriel 12-1-50-0 (2w, 1nb); Simmons 2-0-8-0; Emrit 5-0-21-0; Cariah 13-4-39-4
T&T 2nd Inns
A Barath c Smith b Mathurin 15
J Guillen c wkp James b Johnson 7
E Lewis c Polius b Johnson 5
L Simmons b Peters 2
J Mohammed c Smith b Peters 8
A Jaggernauth not out 4
D Ramdin not out 4
EXTRAS: (NB2, W1, B4) 7
TOTAL (for five wickets; 21 overs) 52
To bat: Cariah, Emrit, Rampaul, Gabriel
Wickets at: 9 (Guillen), 15 (Lewis), 27 (Simmons), 40 (Mohammed), 48 (Barath)
BOWLING: Pascal 4-0-15-0 (2nb); Johnson 6-1-9-2 (1w); Peters 5-0-14-2; Mathurin 4-1-10-1; Sebastien 2-2-0-0