By Sean Devers
Talented all-rounder Kemo Paul decimated the President’s X1 attack on what must be their favorite ground with a destructive unbeaten ton after off-spinner Akil Wallace had picked up his second five-wicket haul of the contest to give Essequibo a rare three-wicket win against the President’s X1 yesterday at the DCC ground in the City.
Set 260 to win their GCB second round three-day under-19 Inter-County match from a minimum of 74 overs on the third and final day, the 16-year-old Paul fashioned a top class undefeated 118 from 126 balls decorated with 10 fours and three sixes and shared in an important 63-run fourth wicket stand with Keanu Harry (42) to spur their team to 260-7 from 59.1 overs for a memorable victory.
Wallace followed up his five-wicket haul in the first innings with 5-74 in the second and match figures of 10-170 to limit the President’X1 to 161 all out 43 minutes before Lunch from their overnight position of 112-6.
Scores: President’s X1 (332 & 161), E’bo (234 & 260)
This was the first victory for Essequibo in three-day under-19 cricket since Yogeshwar Lall’s magnificent unbeaten 185 led a successful run chase against Berbice in 2003 at the same venue while Man-of-the-Match Paul, Essequibo’s best player, became the first specialist fast bowler to score a century for that County at any level.
When play resumed in scorching heat on a deteriorating last day pitch, Wallace removed both overnight batsmen Shivnarine Srikisoon (9) and Vivian Albert (9) before Ershad Ali finished on 16 not out as the last pair put together 31 runs in a frustrating union.
Harry (2-13) and Akini Adams (2-21) supported Wallace, whose bowling improved as the match progressed, but by Lunch Essequibo were on the ropes on 24-2 after losing both openers, Ricardo Peters (17) and Avinash Persaud for a duck to off-spinner Albert, who opened the bowling.
When Shivendra Hemraj (23) fell to Daniel Lewis who also sent back Parmesh Parsotam (10) to leave the score on 74-4, the lads from the Cinderella County must have again been hoping for the emergence of their Fairy Godmother to save them.
But Paul, who captured three wickets in the match, appeared with the bat to conjure a fantastic display of stroke play with his flashing blade to rival any fairytale ending for Essequibo.
The technically correct right-hander began solidly and played in the Vs with a straight bat, stroking the ball sweetly down the ground until he was well set and along with the left-handed Harry, who reached the boundary three times and cleared it thrice, took Essequibo to 137-5 before Harry played an impetuous sweep and was LBW to Ryan Shun 12 minutes before Tea.
At Tea, Essequibo, aided by an atrocious performance in the field by the President’s X1, were 153-5 and the game was in the balance as both teams knew that Paul, who was on 53, was the key to victory.
And Paul, who grew up in the Beach Community of Saxacalli in the Essequibo River before he migrated to the Island of Wakenaam to attend the Wakenaam Secondary School, responded in brilliant fashion, launching a clinical exhibition of exhilarating shots in what was almost as one-man-show for Essequibo.
He began with a six off Albert, who bowled with teasing flight but then resorted to pushing them through as Paul went on a rampage with a brutal pull and three savage back-foot punches in an expensive over.
Paul was not finished yet and deposited Travis Persaud for a towering six to post the 200 before reaching his maiden Inter-County hundred from 118 balls with eight fours and two sixes.
Tension mounted as Travis Drakes (13) missed almighty swipe and was bowled by Ronaldo Mohamed and Paul Williams (8) irresponsibly played across the line and was bowled by Lewis.
However, the pugnacious Paul, already a senior Inter-County pacer, urged on by the vocal Essequibo supporters including his sister, got together with Ryan Adams who made a level-headed undefeated 23, in the their unfinished 65-run eight wicket stand.
The match ended with one ball bowled in the 15 mandatory overs with three overthrows to put an exclamation mark on the poor day in the field endured by the President’s X1.
The final round commences tomorrow with Berbice and Essequibo doing battle at Everest and Demerara facing the President’s X1 at Bourda.
By Sean Devers