Played between the two teams that participated in the very first Day/Night First-Class match with pink balls in the West Indies in 2010, Guyana Jaguars were in firm control on 245-2 against T&T Red Force when day one of their CWI Digicel Regional Four-Day Day/Night contest ended on Thursday 16th November, 2017 under lights at the Brian Lara Academy.
Thirty year old Skipper Leon Johnson led from the front with his 32nd First-Class half-century. His unbeaten 106, his fifth ton at this level, lasted 220 balls and was decorated with 11 boundaries.
Johnson, one of seven left-handers in the team, shared in a 174-run partnership with 21-year-old Tagenarine Chanderpaul who made a patient 84 with eight fours from 235 balls. The pair joined forces in the 15th over when Chanderpaul Hemraj was caught behind off Bajan Roshan Primus for a cameo 22 with four boundaries at 33-1.
Primus and Daniel St Clair were the only wicket-takers as the Red Force struggled for penetration all day, Vishaul Singh (22) and Johnson saw their team to the close. Guyana replaced pacer Romario Shepherd with left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie and opted to bat in sunny conditions on a graveyard dead track on which the pick ball failed generate any bounce.
Hemraj pulled St Clair for three fours capitalising on innocuous short balls from the left-arm pacer before he was removed as Guyana’s openers again failed build a solid platform. Watched by a fair size gathering at the impressive facility in South Trinidad, Chanderpaul played the supporting role before cutting St Clair behind point for his first boundary and along with Johnson, who got going with a confident pull off Primus for four, consolidated the team’s position with sensible batting on the large, lush green and sluggish outfield.
The pair took their team to the interval with Jaguars on 61-1 from 28 Johnson was on 22 and Chanderpaul, who faced 80 balls and batted for two hours, on 15. After the break, in a slight drizzle, Chanderpaul on-drove leg-spinner Imran Khan sweetly past wide mid-on for a boundary as he looked more comfortable as his innings progressed.
Johnson clipped off-spinner Bryan Charles for four to move to 49 before reaching his second fifty for the season from 102 balls with six fours. Chanderpaul straight drove left-arm Jamaican Soldier Cottrell back past his ankles for four to move into the forties before Johnson tucked Cottrell for a couple to bring up the 100 partnership.
Chanderpaul whipped Cottrell of his legs for his fourth boundary to post his fourth fifty in his 19th First-Class match. His cautiously constructed half-century took just under three hours and came from 163 balls.
At the dinner break, Johnson (67) and Chanderpaul (58) were still there with the score on 151-1, adding 90 runs in the second session. In the final session both batsmen seemed untroubled and Chanderpaul pivoted and pulled Primus disdainfully for four to move into the 70s while Johnson was batting himself back into form as their partnership flourished.
The 150 stand was posted in 69 overs with both batsmen looking well entrenched as the Red Force used seven bowlers in a futile effort to separate the pair. Chanderpaul flicked St Clair for four to go past his previous highest of 81 increasing his strike rate slightly while Johnson danced into Jason Mohammed and caressed him elegantly to the extra cover boundary.
The 200 came up in the 74th over to give Jaguars their first batting point before Johnson played a dismissive shot to the mid-wicket boundary off Charles taking him to 90. When well set for a maiden hundred Chanderpaul nibbled at one from St Clair and provided Keeper Amir Jangoo with his second catch as partnership was finally broken to bring Singh to the crease.
The little left-hander, with scores of 119 and 97 not out in his two games this season, dabbed Cottrell for four after his Captain had reached his ton with a straight drive off St Clair for two from 201 balls with 10 fours.