Trinidad & Tobago 121 and 43 for 0 trail Jamaica 293 (Nash 117, Lambert 50) by 129 runs
He glaring sun bore down on the Trinidad and Tobago fielders at Sabina Park, Jamaica, in the first session of the second day of the Carib Challenge final. So did the weight of a substantial 172-run first innings deficit against the Jamaicans, built on the back of an inspired knock of 116 from Brendan Nash, his second for Jamaica, and second versus T&T this season.
At the close, T&T were trying to make inroads into a challenging deficit, very aware that they must first overhaul a daunting lead before they can think about setting Jamaica a competitive fourth innings target. Openers Daren Ganga and Adrian Barath set about on a rescue mission and, by the close, had given T&T a good start of 43 without loss, a three-wicket improvement over Thursday's first session. They might have had something in the vicinity of 20 more runs, but the Sabina Park outfield, which has seen much better days, was effective in slowing up the ball towards the boundary.
Their reply was not without blemish, though, as both batsmen were let off, Ganga dropped by Nash in slip on eight and Barath put down by Jamaica's first day hero, left arm spinner Nikita Miller, on 14.
What made Nash's knock-he was unbeaten overnight on 56-special in Jamaica's first innings was not dazzling strokeplay, but disciplined application at a time when Jamaica were 29 for three on the first day. Then he featured in a partnership of 65 with Brendan Parchment, before batting throughout the morning session to put on 106 with Jamaican captain Tamar Lambert-who scored an even 50-raising a well-deserved century in the process.
With that batting effort handing Jamaica a handsome advantage, it will be an uphill task for T&T's batsmen to get them back on track. They did get that slim chance, though, thanks to pacers Mervyn Dillon, Ravi Rampaul and Richard Kelly, who prised out four of Jamaica's last six wickets in the space of 93 runs just after Nash had brought up his fifth first-class ton.
Lendl Simmons was one bright spark for T&T behind the stumps replacing Denesh Ramdin, who did not return to the field yesterday after suffering heavy bruising and swelling around his right eye. He was hit by a Daren Powell bouncer while batting on the opening morning. Simmons snapped up whatever came his way, holding onto four catches provided by the Jamaicans, including the prize scalp of Nash, and wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh Jr.
The other good news for T&T w as that Ramdin seemed to be okay yesterday evening, with just a swollen eye, and even managed to toss up a few balls to number three batsman Darren Bravo during some batting practice after play.
In Jamaica's innings, Nash and Lambert were content to wait patiently for T&T off-spinner Amit Jaggernauth to make the odd mistake. They preferred the pace offered by Rampaul and Dillon, though, and scored easily. Even when the runs dried up, with the spin duo of Jaggernauth and chinaman bowler Dave Mohammed operating in tandem, they still played within themselves, picking up the odd boundary in the process.
The pudgy Jamaican skipper was no slouch between the wickets, running all but four of his runs, while Nash was severe on anything just outside off stump and left alone anything that bounced, or was fairly wide.
At the 200-run mark, Lambert, who had been living a charmed life in the latter part of his innings, found T&T skipper Daren Ganga, who took a brilliant right-handed catch just off the ground at wide mid on off Dillon. Just 31 runs later it was Baugh heading back to pavilion for 17, top-edging Rampaul behind to Simmons.
Jerome Taylor came and played an enterprising unbeaten cameo of 27 (four fours, 29 balls), drilling boundaries off Rampaul and Kelly, but lost the rest of the Jamaica tail, Dillon removing Powell (14) caught Mohammed at backward point, in between Kelly's caught behind dismissals of Nikita Miller (11) and Odean Brown (4). Once T&T had mopped up the Jamaican tail-not without resistance-it was time to attempt some repair work after their first innings collapse.
The question is, with the pitch more conducive to stroke play than on the first morning, can their batting improve well enough to allow them to challenge Jamaica?