BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, (CMC) – Devon Thomas hit his third first-class hundred and a career-best knock from Akeem Saunders, defying a destructive spell from left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, that carried Leeward Islands Hurricanes to within reach of a stunning come-from-behind victory over Barbados Pride in the Regional 4-Day Championship before they settled for a draw.
Thomas hit the top score of 103 – his first hundred in two years – and Saunders supported with a resolute 64 that propelled the Hurricanes to 286 for eight – just shy of the target of 312 set earlier on the final day of their sixth-round match at Warner Park.
The pair defied the Pride attack for close to two hours either side of tea with a stand of 108 for the fifth wicket after the Hurricanes looked in danger of crumbling on 133 for four.
They separated about an hour after tea and the Pride attack, led by Warrican with 6-89 from 28 overs, made a big push for the win, but the Hurricanes tail-enders chose discretion as the best part of valour to bat in the closing stages.
The result meant that Pride – entering the match in fifth position on 48 points – earned 8.8 points, gaining three for the result, two batting points after reaching 265 for seven at the 110-over threshold in their first innings, three bowling points and 0.8 pace bowling points.
Hurricanes – starting the match in fourth on 49.6 points – finished with 7.4 points that consisted of three for the result, one batting point, two bowling points and 1.4 pace bowling points.
The Pride overnight pair of Kenroy Williams, not out 49, and Kevin Stoute, not out on 32, used the first hour of the day to advance the visitors to 163 for four with an unbroken, fifth-wicket stand of 79 before they declared.
Openers Montcin Hodge and Chesney Hughes gave the Hurricanes the perfect start, scoring at more than five runs an over to share 57 for the first wicket, but they were both dismissed before lunch.
Hodge was caught in the deep off Warrican for 33 and Hughes was lbw to part-time off-spinner Kenroy Williams 17.
Resuming from 59 for two after the interval, Nkrumah Bonner and Thomas ushered the Hurricanes past 100 before two more wickets slowed their advance.
Bonner was lbw to Warrican for 16, and former Hurricanes leg-spinner and Pride first-innings bowling hero Hayden Walsh, Jr bowled Jahmar Hamilton for 16.
Saunders came out and with Thomas batted through the remainder of the afternoon session to carry the Hurricanes to 186 for four at tea.
With a minimum of 31 overs to chase down the remaining 126, Saunders and Thomas continued to score at a steady rate to take the Hurricanes past the 200 mark.
Thomas was first to reach his 50 and Saunders soon followed, but was fell to Warrican, trying to push the scoring along, on the stroke of the final drinks break with 71 needed. He batted 102 minutes, faced 101 balls, and struck six fours and two sixes.
Thomas duly reached his hundred following the break, but the Hurricanes plans to make the final assault hit a snag, when he was stumped off Warrican with 48 required. He spent 199 minutes at the crease, faced 155 balls, and struck six fours and one six.
This opened the game up for the Pride, and they added the scalps of Terrence Warde bowled by Warrican for nine and Hurricanes captain Rahkeem Cornwall caught close to the wicket off the same bowler for 10 before Jeremiah Louis joined Gavin Tonge to bat through the final 20 minutes.
In the next round, both teams play road games: leaders and reigning three-time champions Guyana Jaguars host Hurricanes at the National Cricket Stadium in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago Red Force welcome Pride to the Brian Lara Cricket Ground in Trinidad.