The Final result might not have had anything to do with it. But, from the moment Barbados chose to bat first on winning the toss in their Red Stripe Bowl opener against the Leeward Islands yesterday, there was some debate at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG).

That they managed only 120 had little to do with the surface, and they duly lost the match by four wickets in spite of a splendid effort in defending their paltry total.

There was tight, containing bowling by Barbados throughout and the hosts arrived at their target in the 43rd of the 46 overs available.

Prior to the start, which was delayed by 45 minutes to allow the groundstaff to finally complete the raking up of an enormous amount of grass, the general feeling was that the pitch would be unpredictable.

When asked at the time why Barbados opted to bat first, coach William Bourne said the Duckworth/Lewis system in rain-affected matches tended to put the team batting second at a disadvantage.

There is some uncertainty about the weather, he said at a time when the skies were clear and the forecast was favourable.

That was a key factor, and sometimes we seem to get problems batting second. We feel that once we ride out the first hour, we should get a good score,Bourne said.

Barbados did survive the first hour against a Leeward Islands attack without Curtly Ambrose and Kenny Benjamin.

The damage, however, was principally inflicted by two players in only their second season of regional cricket.

Afterwards, Bourne cited the disappointing collapse in which Barbados lost their last seven wickets for 25 runs as the main reason for their demise.

We had some bad strokes. The batting was a letdown, he said.

The pitch was slow. There was nothing untoward or extraordinary about it.

One ball bounced badly in both innings, but we batted badly.

The defeat means that Barbados must win against Canada today and Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow to stand a chance of reaching the semifinals.

The collapse could not have been predicted when captain Philo Wallace and Adrian Griffith were finding the boundary with regularity in a second-wicket stand of 53.

Having analysed the pitch, the pair played with some authority after Sherwin Campbell was out to his first ball, gloving a lifting delivery from debutant fast bowler Goldwyn Prince.

Big and strong, Prince bowled with enthusiasm before Wallace smacked him for four boundaries through the on-side.

Barbados reached their first 50 in 13 overs before losing momentum with the introduction of Hamesh Anthony and Anthony Lake.

Anthony struck an important blow in his first over when Wallaces attempted cut resulted in an edged catch to wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs, who hauled in five dismissals.

Once the captain was out, only 22 runs were scored in the next 11 overs that followed from medium-pacer Anthony and off-spinner Lake.

Lake, a 25-year-old Antiguan who created a favourable impression in his debut season last year, hardly delivered a bad ball in ten successive overs that cost him a mere 16 runs and included the scalps of the left-handers Griffith and Ryan Hinds.

Griffiths knock ended in disappointing fashion at 31 with an ill-advised cross-batted stroke, but Barbados woes started with a double-strike from the unlikeliest of bowlers.

When Wildern Cornwall came on to bowl his bustling medium-pace after 27 overs with the total on 80 for three, Barbados would have been looking to increase the tempo.

Instead, they had to try to recover from the quick dismissals of Floyd Reifer, who edged a catch to Jacobs, and Roland Holder, a lbw victim on the back foot two balls after the dismissal of his partner.

Barbados never overcame these setbacks and a seemingly lengthy batting order - Antonio Mayers went in at No. 8 - could not raise at least another 30 runs that would have made the match far more competitive.

Barbados did well to prevent the Leewards from romping home, but the final result was always on the cards once the experienced Keith Arthurton and Jacobs added 35 for the fifth wicket after their team were tottering at 48 for four.

Jacobs hit 31 off 67 balls and Arthurton made 25.