SKIPPER Leon Johnson and deputy Vishaul Singh played pivotal roles to lift the Guyana Jaguars from a double blow against the Jamaican Scorpions.
After early wickets, the duo stood tall to end at 203 for three on day two of the seventh round Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional Four-day encounter at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
Johnson’s workmanlike 58, coupled with a composed 61 from 30-year-old Singh, helped the defending champions not only to overcome the cheap dismissals of Chandrapaul Hemraj (4) and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (10), but also to put the hosts in a position where they can look to get close to Scorpions’ first-innings total of 358.
The left-handed pair of Johnson and Singh stitched a 101-run for the fourth-wicket after they were reduced to 62-3 at one stage of the innings.
However, after the visitors dismissed Johnson and Singh, Christopher Barnwell (22 not out) and Raymon Reifer (five not out), closed the day with Jaguars trailing by 155 runs.
Singh was his usual confident self, mostly chanceless and enjoyed the company of Johnson, who showed enough signs of getting back to his best.
Johnson managed to somewhat turnaround his fortunes after failing to impress so far. His talent was never in doubt, but a string of low scores had begun to raise some concerns.
The 31-year-old played a chanceless knock and, barring a few edges here and there, he looked in complete control of his batting during his stay at the crease. He was, however, trapped lbw after he completely missed a short ball that kept low from spinner Jermaine Blackwood. Johnson batted for just over two hours and hit seven fours and a six from 184 balls.
Singh, who played three Tests for the Caribbean side battled for 206 minutes at the crease, facing 171 balls, counting eight boundaries before he edged spinner Dennis Bulli to first slip.
Earlier the tourists, resuming their first innings at 320 for eight, lasted only half-an-hour into the day’s play.
Derval Green (80-ball 86) and Bulli (33) ended up sharing 108 runs for the ninth-wicket. Bulli, was the first to be dismissed, off left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul who finished with 3-76.
The right-handed, Green, who was unbeaten on 59 overnight, came up with a few attractive shots prior to his dismissal. He was taken at slip off Romario Shepherd (2-69).
The Scorpions then took the early initiative, leaving the hosts struggling on 20 for two. Both new-ball bowlers Jerome Taylor and Green were right on target and reaped immediate rewards.
Hemraj, who was on Thursday omitted from the Windies ODI squad to face England, was the first to depart, bowled by Green off a probing full-length ball, for four, while Chanderpaul’s vulnerability outside the off-stump was exposed. The left-hander edged a delivery from Taylor to wicketkeeper Oraine Williams in the next over, for ten.
However, the left-handed pair of Johnson and Rutherford soon settled down until lunch with Rutherford displaying even more aggressive intention, hitting five well-timed boundaries on either side of the break.
Immediately after the resumption, medium pacer Rovman Powell broke the promising 42-run stand through a rising delivery which had Rutherford, playing away from his body, to edge a regulation catch to second slip for 31.
Singh joined Jaguars captain who kick-started the partnership with a six and a couple of fours off spinner Kenroy Williams before Singh elegantly drove Powell to the cover boundary.
The pair continued to bat resolutely and in the process allowed Jaguars to move steadily with few or little alarms. At tea the hosts were 137 for three with Johnson 46 and Singh 34.
Post-tea, Johnson and Singh batted in much the same manner as they did in the previous session. Their pace of scoring was slow, but they battled with assurance. Johnson reached his 50 from 151 balls with his seventh boundary off Taylor just after the break, his second this season, while the pint-sized Singh reached his 15th from 142 balls.
Following the double blow, Barnwell and Reifer approached the few overs with caution.
JAMAICA SCORPIONS 1st innings (o/n 320-8)
O. Williams c Johnson b Shepherd 10
C. Walton c Johnson b Permaul 14
B. King b Rutherford 51
J. Blackwood c Barnwell b Rutherford 44
A. Fudadin c Shepherd b Rutherford 23
P. Palmer c Bramble b Motie 29
R. Powell c Rutherford b Permaul 17
K. Williams c Bramble b Motie 33
D. Green c Johnson b Shepherd 86
D. Bulli c Motie b Permaul 33
J. Taylor not out 8
Extras: (b-4, w-2, nb-4) 10
Total: (all out, 97.2 overs overs) 358
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-48, 3-94, 4-132, 5-144, 6-172, 7-228, 8-230, 9-338.
Bowling: Shepherd 19.2-5-69-2, Reifer 18-5-46-0, Permaul 19-3-76-3, Motie 20-2-70-2, Rutherford 10-2-52-3, Barnwell 8-3-14-0, Johnson 3-0-27-0.
GUYANA JAGUARS 1st innings
T. Chanderpaul b Green 4
C. Hemraj c wkp. b Taylor 10
S. Rutherford c Blackwood b Powell 31
L. Johnson lbw b Blackwood 58
V. Singh c Blackwood b Bulli 61
C. Barnwell not out 22
R. Reifer not out 5
Extras: (b-4, lb-4, nb-4) 12
Total: (for five wickets, 83 overs) 203
Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-20, 3-62, 4-163, 5-187.
Bowling: Taylor 12-3-22-1, Green 7-1-24-1, Williams 25-8-56-0, Powell 13-5-24-1, Bulli 17-2-48-1, Blackwood 4-1-9-1, Walton 5-0-12-0.