Trinidad & Tobago close in on victory
Barbados 167 and 112 for 6 require another 300 runs to beat Trinidad & Tobago 259 and 319 (Simmons 115, Ganga 59, Edwards 4-56)
Dave Mohammed snared three wickets for 21 runs from ten overs in the 50 minutes before the close of play, Mervyn Dillon collected two early scalps, and Amit Jaggernauth added another to put the Barbadians on the back foot. Ryan Hinds' 32, Dale Richards' 31, and Wayne Blackman's 25 have been Barbados' best efforts with the bat. T&T, leading by 92 runs on first innings, were dismissed for 319 in their second innings about 45 minutes after the lunch interval. Lendl Simmons, the opener, hit 115, his second first-class hundred to top-score for the visitors, Daren Ganga, T&T's captain, retired hurt for 59, and Brian Lara scored 47 at better than a run-a-ball. Fidel Edwards was the most successful Barbados bowler with 4 for 56 from 11 overs, and Ryan Austin took 3 for 64 from 14.2 overs of offspin.
Barbados, though, appeared to be making a fight of it when Richards batted for almost an hour to put up a 41-run opening stand. Dillon, however, made the breakthrough when he had Richards adjudged lbw for 31 playing across a full-length delivery, and in his next over added the scalp of Kurt Wilkinson, brilliantly caught at mid-off by a flying Richard Kelly for a duck. Hinds, Barbados' captain, came to the wicket and with Blackman carried Barbados to 41 for 2 at tea. The two consolidated Barbados' position with a partnership of 45 for the third wicket, after rain delayed the resumption after the break by almost half-hour. Blackman had dropped anchor and looked solid enough until he played back to a googly from Mohammed and was adjudged lbw.
The most controversial moment of the game, however, was just around the corner, when Hinds, moving down the pitch to loft a delivery from Mohammed, was deceived by the flight and was dubiously adjudged lbw by Tunley Franklyn, the Barbadian umpire. Two more wickets fell in the space of seven balls, when Alcindo Holder was caught at square cover for 8 advancing and unleashing an ill-advised almighty heave, and Patrick Browne was neatly caught behind off Jaggernauth for a duck.
Earlier, the runs continued to flow for T&T, after they resumed from their bedtime position of 145 for 1. Simmons and Ganga scored as they pleased, with the younger batsman arriving at his landmark with a single on a misfield. The pair added 122 for the second wicket before Simmons was caught at backward square leg top-edging a sweep after batting for just over three hours, facing 151 balls and striking 14 boundaries.
Lara arrived and was simply Lara, adding 72 with Ganga for the third wicket in the last 45 minutes before lunch. He struck half-dozen fours and a couple of sixes - one over the pavilion at square leg off Austin, the other over long-on off Ryan Nurse - from 31 balls before he was caught inside the deep midwicket boundary. Ganga, who had been struck on his forearm by Edwards, retired hurt during lunch and was whisked away for a precautionary X-ray that did not contain bad news. His absence energised the Barbadians, and they removed the last six T&T wickets for 32 runs in the space of 4.2 overs. None of them scored more than ten, but the lead was significant enough by then. No team has scored more than 400 runs to win a regional first-class match. The Windwards have come closest, scoring 371 to defeat the same T&T by two wickets more than two decades ago at Queen's Park Oval.
Victory would draw T&T level with Barbados on 36 points and, based on head-to-head results, the Trinis would finally be able to get the monkey off their backs. T&T last won the regional first-class title in 1985 under Ranjie Nanan, former West Indies offspin bowler.