NORTH SOUND, Antigua, Mar 15, CMC – An extraordinary gamble by Leeward Islands Hurricanes backfired spectacularly, leaving them with a stunning innings and 18-run defeat to Barbados Pride inside two days of their rescheduled fourth round match in the Regional Four-Day Championship here Friday.
Trailing by 101 runs on first innings after Pride declared on 191 for eight, Hurricanes appeared to be stringing together a solid reply on 83 for two in their second innings – still behind by 18 runs.
But in a bizarre twist, the hosts declared their innings 38 minutes after lunch, believing they were ahead of Barbados in the overall points standings.
In fact, Hurricanes were actually behind by 0.20 behind – on 134 versus Pride’s 134.2. It meant that Hurricanes, who entered the contest in second place in the standings and still with an outside chance of overtaking eventual champions, Guyana Jaguars, will now end the championship in a disappointing third place with Barbados picking up second for the fifth straight season.
Resuming the day at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground on 154 for four in reply to the Hurricanes’ first innings 90, Pride’s batting fell away badly as four wickets tumbled for 37 runs, courtesy of a superb spell from Test fast bowler Alzarri Joseph.
The 22-year-old scythed through the middle and lower order to pick up three of the wickets to fall and finish with four for 28, prompting an earlier than anticipated declaration.
Captain Shamarh Brooks, unbeaten on 79 overnight, added just three before becoming the day’s second casualty in the fourth over of the morning, caught at slip by Jahmar Hamilton off off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall (3-86).
Test wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich had earlier failed to add to his overnight 28, caught by Hamilton at slip off one from Joseph that bounced sharply, off the second ball of the day.
Joseph then knocked over Tevyn Walcott (6) and Chaim Holder (5) cheaply to put Barbados under pressure.
Needing a solid effort at the crease the second time around, Hurricanes lost Keacy Carty in the second over for four with the score on 12, caught at second slip by Jonathan Carter off Jamaican speedster Marquino Mindley.
But Montcin Hodge stroked an unbeaten 40, adding 62 for the second wicket with Devon Thomas who made 21.
Hodge struck seven fours in a 65-ball to knock to push his tally for the season to 711 runs – second only to veteran Windward Islands opener, Devon Smith (745).
Thomas fell short of the 700-run mark, however, when he perished to a catch at slip off fast bowler Keon Harding to end the season on 685 runs.
The declaration then came virtually without warning. Harding had walked back to the top of his mark to send down the final delivery of his seventh over when the striker Hodge turned and walked away, shaking hands with the Barbados players.