After a positive start to the West Indies Championship with stellar performances with the bat against both the Jamaica Scorpions and the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force fell flat against the defending champions Guyana Jaguars in their third round match at Providence.
The Darren Bravo-led team, replying to Guyana’s first innings total of 323, were dismissed for 98 on Friday. And after being set 403 to win, were struggling again at 122 for six at stumps yesterday with a miracle needed if the Red Force are to have a chance of salvaging anything from the contest on the final day today.
Having made over 300 runs in their first turn in the middle, the Jaguars schooled the Red Force batsmen in their first innings to take a 225-run lead but refused to enforce the follow-on.
Instead, Leon Johnson opted to bat a second time, taking the lead to 402 before declaring after lunch on the penultimate day of the contest and by the final session, the hosts were closing in on a much-needed confidence boosting win, especially after losing to the Barbados Pride last weekend.
While batting collapses have become more of a regular sight for the Red Force over the years, what happened in Guyana over the last three days would have still been considered a shocker, given the kind of runs Bravo’s men put up in their first two matches of the season.
Against the Jamaica Scorpions, the Red Force piled up 460 for four declared and against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, they made 552 for nine declared and on both occasions the batted for over 140 overs with a combined total of four centuries from four different batsmen, and five half-centuries.
In contrast to that, against the Jaguars, the Red Force batted for 41 overs in their first innings with a high score of 27 from opener Jeremy Solozano and 22 from Yannick Ottley.
Skipper Bravo, who made 66 and 133 against the Scorpions and the Hurricanes respectively, was bowled for one by Nial Smith in the first innings on Friday and then had his stumps disturbed again for two by pacer Keon Joseph yesterday as the visitors stumbled again in their second innings, losing two quick wickets in the first five overs with just five runs on the board.
Solozano and Jason Mohammed then came together to take the visitors to tea at 18 for two. However more trials would come their way in the final period.
The third wicket pair added 62 runs but were eventually separated by Kevin Sinclair, who trapped Solozano lbw for 34 off 72 deliveries.
The next batsman Joshua Da Silva, who scored his maiden first-class century (113 not out) against the Scorpions before hitting 80 against the Hurricanes, made one in the first innings against the Jaguars and was caught by Johnson in the slips off Permaul for eight yesterday.
That wicket was even more significant for the hosts as it was the 500th first-class wicket for Permaul.
Cariah, another one of the Red Force centurions, was dismissed without scoring on Friday and 27 yesterday. He was lbw to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo yesterday having faced 43 balls with the visitors slipping to 117 for six in the final session before Ottley and Akeal Hosein took them to the close without loss.
Earlier in the day, Chandrapaul Hemraj scored 54 while Tagenarine Chanderpaul hit 33 and Vishaul Singh made 37 not out as the Jaguars continued to thrive with the bat.
Off-spinner Bryan Charles continued to have a good game with the ball, grabbing two for 57 to go with his five-wicket haul in the first innings, while left-arm spinner Yannick Ottley grabbed two for eight and Bravo took one for 24.