Kemo Paul, at just 19 and in only his fourth First-Class match, fashioned a wonderfully compiled maiden century on the penultimate day of the CWI/ Digicel Regional 4-Day first round contest at Providence to leave the Guyana Jaguars hunting their seventh consecutive win against Jamaica Scorpions.
Jamaica has not beaten Guyana since 2014 and they head into today’s final day needing another 422 with eight wickets in hand to do so. It will take a tremendous second innings batting performance or rain to save them from defeat.
Set 483 in four sessions for an improbable win, Jamaica were 61-2 with Guyanese Assad Fudadin, the only Test player in the team and the one batsman most equipped to bat for a long period of time, unbeaten on 11 from 62 balls.
The 22-year-old Brandon King, who played some attractive shots and has a century and two fifties from 11 First-Class games was with him not out on 22 but their job of saving the game will be as difficult as a turtle beating Usain Bolt in a 100 meters race.
Guyana had earlier extended their overnight 106-4 to 315-8 declared at Tea with Paul, who made 107 from 129 balls with 12 fours and a six adding 72 for the seventh wicket with Skipper Leon Johnson, whose 50 (his 31st half century) took 144 balls with four boundaries.
Anthony Bramble (26), Sherfane Rutherford and Romario Shepherd, who finished unbeaten on 16 and 11 respectively, were others to reach double figures.
Left arm back-of-the hand spinner Denis Bulli took 5-104, his first five-wicket haul in his fourth match, to end with match figures of 7-149.
Scores: Jaguars 266 & 315-dec, Scorpions 99 & 61-2.
When Guyana resumed their innings yesterday, Bhaskar Yadram, who was bowled by Bulli for a duck in the first innings, never suggested permanence and was soon bowled by Bulli for one at 114-5 before Bramble, who hit two fours and a six, was trapped lbw to Bulli at 157-6.
Paul, the 19-year-old Vice Captain of the victorious West Indies U-19 World Cup team joined Johnson and pair batted cautiously as Jamaica sensing that the hosts were looking to get a big total before declaring, bowled wide of the off stump and set defensive fields and few fans in the stands were getting agitated by the slow scoring and let the batsmen know of their disapproval.
Paul dominated the partnership and was at one stage level on 42 with Johnson. Johnson played a few aggressive pulls before the 30-year-old with two fifties in nine Tests, edged Derval Green to the Keeper just after reaching his fifty.
Paul continued to intelligently bat and his innings ebbed and flowed to suit the situation. After reaching his first fifty at this level, the talented youngster who registered the highest score (177) in the GCB three-day Franchise League, changed gear and brutally attacked the spinners; hitting Bulli for a couple of big sixes.
Paul and Sherfane Rutherford added 68 for the eighth wicket as Paul clobbered off-spinner Damani Sewell for six and reverse swept him for four to move to 99.
Paul, who began his cricket career in Wakenaam, an Island in the Essequibo River, got a single to become the first player who represented Essequibo in cricket, to score a First-Class hundred for Guyana.
Paul, with the declaration imminent, charged Bulli, who did not bowl as well as he did in the first innings and was bowled before Shepherd and Rutherford batted to Tea when the declaration was made.
Jamaica, who were dismissed for their second lowest total against Guyana after falling for 98 at Bourda in 1973, began their second innings with a slice of luck when debutant Garth Garvey, who was lbw to shepherd for a first-ball duck in the first innings, was dropped at slip by Chanderpaul Hemraj off Shepherd off the first ball he faced.
He responded by pulling Shepherd for four and off-driving him gloriously for four more in the same over before Permaul, who reached 400 First-Class wickets in the first innings, was introduced and had Garvey (13) at 25-1.
Guyanese Trevon Griffith (11) was removed by Shepherd and at 25-2 a three-day finish was on the cards but the compact Fudadin and King saw their team safely to the close on a good track with some help for the spinners.