TAREQUE White's unbeaten 82 and Damion Jacobs' six-wicket haul put Melbourne CC in a strong position against reigning champions Manchester CA in the final of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) Senior Cup Championships at Chedwin Park yesterday.
Scores: Manchester 203 (74 overs); Melbourne 133-3 (49)
Batting first after winning the toss, the Manchester team stumbled to 144-8, but a swashbuckling 98 from left-handed batsman Sherdon Allen guided them to a relatively respectable 203 all out.
Allen, who was particularly strong through and over the on-side pelted seven massive sixes and four boundaries off 129 balls, before he attempted one big hit too many and gave Jon Ross Campbell an easy catch in the deep off left-arm spinner Christopher Lamont.
Manchester captain Gary Graham made 36, while opener Zeniffe Fowler (26) and Jamie Merchant (18) got respective starts but failed to carry on.
Jacobs, extracting turn from the Chedwin Park surface with his crafty leg-spin bowling, took 6-59 off 20 overs, including the wickets of Graham, David Powell (0) and Nicholas Walters (0) in one over. Lamont ended with 2-37 off 10 overs, while national left-arm orthodox bowler Nikita Miller grabbed 2-56 off 25.
Melbourne, seeking their first two-day title since 2000, got off to a bad start when Campbell (0) lazily hit left-arm spinner David Powell straight into the hands of Merchant at mid-off with the score on 10.
The off-spinner Merchant then bowled Damion Jacobs (17) and later earned a successful LBW appeal against Andre McCarthy (7) to peg back Melbourne to 71-3.
However, White partnered by Tafari Williams, batted patiently as Melbourne consolidated and took the advantage heading into today's final day's play.
The powerfully built White has blasted six fours and three sixes so far, while Williams is unbeaten on 17 as Melbourne seek another 71 runs to take first-innings honours.
Melbourne's wicketkeeper/batsman Garfield Moore noted White's knock for giving them the advantage.
"It's a good start for us on the first day. Tareque is batting well and it has put us in a good position to post a big total," Moore said.
Merchant has snatched 2-24 off 22 miserly overs, while Powell chipped in with 1-24 off 11.
Manchester's coach Barry Barnes, aiming for a fourth straight hold on the crown, remained optimistic, despite lamenting the loss of three young members of his team as they prepare with the national Under-19 squad.
"I disappointed with how we finished the day after such a good comeback earlier. We missed some chances in the field, but I can't complain too much because it is a makeshift team. We still have a good chance. All we need is one wicket early tomorrow (today) and that could make a difference," Barnes said.
Today's play is slated to start at 10:00 am.