Guyana 211 ( Arjune 55, Chattergoon 51) v Barbados
The last time Barbados won the toss and sent the opponents in to bat at the Carlton Club, the critics gave them a hard time. Those very same detractors would have been on their case midway into the opening day of the Carib Beer Challenge semi-final at the same venue after Ryan Hinds asked Guyana to bat first. By the close, however, the critics might have changed their tune.
To their credit, Barbados managed to convert a Guyana century opening stand to a total of 211 all out. Two months ago they managed to dismiss Trinidad and Tobago for 259, but still lost by the heavy margin of 264 runs when a draw would have assured them of the Cup.
For the first three hours, the surface appeared to be lifeless as Krishna Arjune and Sewnarine Chattergoon added 106 for the first wicket with the help of a few missed chances. For the next three hours, the match took a complete swing with Barbados running through the top and middle order.
Pedro Collins, making his first first-class appearance in a year following a stress fracture of the back that sidelined him since last September, showed he had lost nothing and grabbed two wickets. One came when he embarrassed Narsingh Deonarine. The left-hander left perplexed after his stumps were hit when he offered no stroke. Collins could have had another two wickets, but catches were missed off him by Smith and wicketkeeper Patrick Browne when Chattergoon was 30 and Arjune 40.
Tino Best, hungry to fire for Barbados since he was stung by his omission after a solitary match in January, also created a big impression, generating pace that no one else could, and at times making life uncomfortable for the batsmen. There was one eventful over in which he hit the 17-year-old Steven Jacobs on the helmet, forced him into taking evasive action with another fast lifter and appealed for a bat/pad catch to forward short-leg.
It was somewhat of an injustice that Best had no wickets to his name at tea, but he returned in the evening session with just as much life to remove Travis Dowlin with a wonderful, diving return catch, after which he sprinted several yards for his usual animated celebrations, and also dislodged Derwin Christian with a full length ball for an lbw verdict.
While Collins and Best were at the forefront, Dwayne Smith's contribution was not to be underestimated. Used as the fifth bowler in an 11 in which the selectors eventually decided to leave out the recuperating Corey Collymore, Smith claimed three wickets, including the last two. His first scalp, Neil McGarrell, was lbw offering no stroke immediately after Floyd Reifer had put down a relatively easy chance at first slip.
Ian Bradshaw also assisted the effort, and even if offspinner Ryan Austin could not sustain the high standards he set in pervious matches, he did enough to claim two wickets.
At the close, Barbados would have been the more contended team on a day that was watched by a few dignitaries, headed by Prime Minister Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Sandiford and former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, the new chairman of the West Indies Cricket Board's Cricket Committee. For the first half of the day, those beyond the boundary might have wondered where the first wicket was coming from.
Arjune and Chattergoon buckled down to play solidly in compiling half-centuries, seemingly setting the platform for a middle order that was badly missing captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul and vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan. Arjune's 55 occupied exactly three hours before Bradshaw dismissed him with the help of a good catch by Hinds in the gully, while Chattergoon's 55, that lasted just shy of four hours, was ended when he tried to heave Austin through the onside and gave a catch to slip.