Trinidad and Tobago Red Force batsman Isaiah Rajah made light of a finger injury and, arguably some ghosts, remaining unbeaten on 58 (168b, 7 x 4) this evening as the hosts closed Day 2 of the 2022 West Indies Championship on 234 for 6 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.
The 28-year-old Rajah was a replacement for injured rookie Test batsman Jeremy Solozano before suffering his own misfortune in the field. But the east Trinidad boy, who was meant to open but instead batted at number 7, seized the moment for himself and his team to defy the Jamaica Scorpions.
The Red Force will start Day 3 with a lead of 93 runs but with only four wickets in the bank.
At Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, defending champions the Barbados Pride are now in the driver’s seat after securing a first innings lead of 152 runs over the visiting Leeward Islands Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes mustered 172 for 9 declared (one player was injured) on Day 1 and the Pride were always likely to make light of that total.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite fell for 29 (122b, 5 x 4), as the Barbados top order generally failed to build on solid starts. But Shane Dowrich (86 off 154, 9 x 4) and Shamar Springer (91 off 181, 7 x 4, 3 x 6) would not be as gentle with the Leewards bowlers.
The pair combined for a sixth-wicket partnership of 175 runs before Antiguan spinner Rahkeem Cornwall had Springer caught by Kacey Carty with Barbados on 299.
Barbados collapsed fairly quickly thereafter, their last four wickets contributing a combined 25 runs. However, the Hurricanes would need to do much better than they did in their first innings to take this contest into the weekend.
At the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, heavyweights Guyana Harpy Eagles have a lot of work ahead as they closed Day 2 on 181 for 5, still trailing the Windward Islands Volcanoes by 158 runs.
The term ‘heavyweight’ might not sit right with everyone in the Guyana dressing room. Gifted 25-year-old batsman Shimron Hetmyer’s fitness issues have been an open secret, with repercussions that could feasibly extend beyond his omission from the West Indies team—as the IPL auction is due to begin on Saturday.
Today, Hetmyer and Tagenarine Chanderpaul looked to be progressing nicely when ‘Hetty’ was dismissed for 24 (37b, 3 x 4) after his flicked shot off pacer Shermon Lewis was superbly snapped up by Ryan John, who completed a low, diving catch.
John’s catch ended a 48-run partnership for the second wicket, which remained Guyana’s most productive pairing at the close.
Windward Islands tailenders Preston McSween and Lewis might have snorted at that. When they came together yesterday afternoon, the Volcanoes were on 215 for 9. And, remarkably, the duo batted well into Day 2, posting a record last-wicket partnership of 124 runs to give their side control of the match.
In the process, both McSween (86 off 103, 9 x 4, 2 x 6) and Lewis (31 off 111, 3 x 4) posted personal highest scores . And, adding affront with the bat to injured pride with the ball, Lewis helped himself to three Guyanese wickets while McSween grabbed a pair.
At Tarouba, Rajah was trying to rewrite his own story. The Trinidadian’s struggles will not cause the same regional palpitations as Hetmyer’s diet. But they must surely have come up at more than a few family get-togethers over the years.
Rajah’s dad, Aneil Rajah, made 56 first-class appearances for Trinidad and Tobago between the mid-1970s and 1980s, with three centuries and 15 half-centuries. His elder brother, Emile Rajah, is credited with a solitary outing in 2012.
Isaiah, who debuted for the Red Force at 23 with 69 (off 161) against the Leeward Islands, looked to be the son who would put the Rajah name squarely on the back pages again.
Instead, six years later, he has not scored a half-century in five years and his debut innings remains his highest score in first-class cricket. Until today anyway.
With only 12 first-class outings in six years, Rajah pulled his finger out against the Scorpions. In partnership with fellow left-hander Yannic Cariah, he scored 116 runs for the sixth wicket. Tomorrow, Rajah will have only the tail for company as the Red Force try to extend the lead into three figures and beyond to set Jamaica an imposing target.
Six years ago, he dreamed of surpassing his dad and winning a place on the West Indies team. For now, he will do well to cement himself in the Trinidad and Tobago set-up.
At this rate, there will be a spring in Isaiah’s step the next time the Rajahs have a cook-up.
(At Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago)
Jamaica Scorpions: 141 all out (Jermaine Blackwood 44, John Campbell 25; Bryan Charles 6/48, Jayden Seales 2/17)
Trinidad and Tobago Red Force: 234 for 6 (Yannic Cariah 72, Isaiah Rajah 58*; Nicholson Gordon 3/23, Marquino Mindley 2/52)
Red Force lead by 93 runs
(At Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados)
Leeward Islands Hurricanes: 172 for 9 dec. (Devon Thomas 58, Kieran Powell 43; Keon Harding 4/42, Jonathan Carter 2/9)
Barbados Pride: 324 all out (Shamar Springer 91, Shane Dowrich 86; Rahkeem Cornwall 4/99, Colin Archibald 3/47)
Leewards trail by 152 runs
(At Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago)
Windward Islands Volcanoes: 339 all out (Preston McSween 86, Alick Athanaze 68, Devon Smith 52; Gudakesh Motie 4/62, Keemo Paul 3/84, Veerasammy Permaul 3/88)
Guyana: 181 for 5 (Vishaul Singh 40*, Tagenarine Chanderpaul 30; Shermon Lewis 3/47, Preston McSween 2/44)
Guyana trail Windward Islands by 158 runs
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