Scorpions score 3rd win of season as Blackwood, King shine though

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, February 23, 2019

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Jamaica Scorpions ripped up the batting form book yesterday afternoon, galloping to a target of 158 runs to beat four-time defending champions Guyana Jaguars by eight wickets in the West Indies four-day cricket match at Sabina Park.

The 27-year-old Jermaine Blackwood picked his moments to make a typically swashbuckling 72 not out. Brandon King, still only 24, was elegance personified in his breezy, unbeaten 66.

The two shared in a stroke-filled, unbroken, 143-run partnership that ensured the Scorpions' third victory of the season was wrapped up inside two days. The performance yesterday was a far cry from the fragility proffered by the Scorpions batsmen for most of the season.

It was all the more impressive, given that the grass-covered pitch offered sideways movement for the quicker bowlers, and grip and bounce for spinners over the previous three innings.

Before the breathtaking batting stunned the Jaguars, the Scorpions' bowling kept the hosts in the game after they had conceded a 19-run first-innings lead.

Led by experienced pacer Jerome Taylor and debutant off-spinner Akim Fraser, they dismissed the visiting Jaguars for 138, giving them a lead of 157 runs.

Scores: Jaguars 158 (55.4 overs) & 138 (40 overs); Scorpions 139 (35.4 overs) & 158-2 (31.2 overs).

Taylor, bowling with guile and deceptive pace from a relatively short run-up, captured 4-26 to end with seven wickets in the match. Fraser took 4-65 to back up his four-wicket haul in the first innings.

Blackwood said he and King had a plan to rattle the Jaguars after they claimed openers Paul Palmer and Chadwick Walton early.

“The Guyana bowlers were bowling pretty well, but I told myself that Brandon and I just had to bring it through. We never wanted to leave it for anyone else. We tried to score and run between the wickets and hit the gaps, and put the fielders and the bowlers on the back foot,” he explained during a post-match interview.

Yesterday morning Scorpions had resumed their first innings from an overnight score of 108-6, but they suffered a blow when batsman Kenroy Williams, who was not out on four, could not resume his innings due to a medical condition, which is yet to be confirmed. Test results are said to be due in three weeks' time, while he has been advised to take seven days' rest.

The Jamaica Observer understands that he was having difficulty breathing and was feeling discomfort along the left side of his upper body.

His absence meant it was left to Assad Fudadin, who resumed on 31, to guide the lower order.

Fraser went in as replacement for Williams, and he and Fudadin took the score to 132 before he was bowled by pace bowler Romario Shepherd for nine. Taylor (zero) also fell to Shepherd, while last man Reynard Leveridge was run out for four.

Left-hander Fudadin, whose awareness and technical application proved head and shoulders above his teammates in the first innings, led the hosts with 43 not out.

All-rounder Derval Green contributed a quick-fire 40 on Thursday's opening day.

Swing bowler Clinton Pestano was outstanding for the Jaguars with 4-31, while Shepherd had 3-30.

When the Jaguars batted a second time they struggled against Taylor and Fraser, much like in the first innings.

The 23-year-old Fraser, bowling accurately, got the first breakthrough, dismissing left-hander Tagenarine Chanderpaul (12) for the second time in the match, this time via the lbw route.

Taylor, 34, who expertly moved the ball both ways, soon came to the fore.

He slanted one across left-hander Chandrapaul Hemraj (13) that brushed the blade of the bat while going through to wicketkeeper Aldaine Thomas.

Sherfane Rutherford (six) also fell to Taylor before lunch. The left-hander — one of six in the Jaguars' top seven — appeared ruffled by a few short deliveries from Taylor before he miscued a pull to be out caught by Chadwick Walton.

After lunch Vishaul Singh (eight) fell to Fraser, while Taylor, bowling beautifully, got one to shape away from Christopher Barnwell's defensive push, with Thomas doing the rest behind the stumps. Barnwell made just two.

Captain Leon Johnson (31) edged a Fraser delivery to Blackwood at slip, before Raymon Reifer (22) fell to the same combination as the Jaguars skidded to 107-7.

Medium pacer Derval Green was also in on the act, getting rid of Shepherd (six) and Pestano (two) before Taylor fittingly brought the innings to an end with the dismissal of top scorer Anthony Bramble (34).

Given what had gone on previously in the match, the target was expected to be tricky, and the early exchanges solidified that.

Walton (three) went at a wide and full delivery from Pestano and was given out caught by wicketkeeper Bramble.

Captain Palmer (six), enduring a horror season with the bat, feathered a catch through to Bramble off the bowling of Shepherd to leave the Scorpions on 15-2.

However, the duo of King and Blackwood, both naturally aggressive batsmen, countered the Jaguars with a number of flowing, attacking shots. They were also keen to take sharp singles and twos.

They soon forced Johnson to set more defensive fields, and then exploited the gaps on offer while maintaining a scoring rate better than five runs per over.

Blackwood smashed five sixes and three fours from only 86 balls, while King thrashed four fours and a six from the 92 deliveries he faced.

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