Returning opener John Campbell hit an unbeaten half-century yesterday to put Jamaica Franchise in pole position of recording a victory against Leewards Hurricane in their WICB Four-day Professional League encounter at Sabina Park.
The 21-year-old, playing in his first game of the season, after contracting what was a suspected case of the chickungunya virus, finished the day on 63 not out, as Jamaica, set 195 for victory, closed the third day on 160 for four, 35 runs shy of their target.
Experienced campaigner David Bernard Jr, with 33, is the other not out batsman, with the duo, who has so far put on 65 for the fifth wicket, slated to resume their innings today at 10:00 a.m.
Campbell has hit two sixes and four fours so far in close to four hours of batting, while Bernard Jr, who has been there for an hour and 34 minutes, had counted two fours.
The Jamaicans set their victory target after the Leewards showed good resolve to post 313 in their second innings after being bowled out for 103 in their first. Jamaica, in their first, made 222.
Starting the day on 155 for six for a lead of 36, the Leewards were propelled to their total by debutant off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, who made a boundary-filled 95.
Cornwall, who had resumed the day on zero after facing one ball the previous day, struck five sixes and eight fours during his knock, and was supported in his knocks by fellow overnight batsman Jahmar Hamilton, who made 44, and fast bowler Jeremiah Louis, who batted for close to an hour and a half and made 22.
Captain Tamar Lambert, who bowled at length on towards the end of the innings, after his front-line bowlers could not close down the Leewards, finished with innings-best figures of three for 32.
He was supported by left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, three for 55, and leg-spinner, Damion Jacobs, three for 74.
Jamaica, in pursuit of their target, then started shakily after losing their first three wickets with only 23 runs on the board.
The first to be dismissed was opener Shacaya Thomas, who in playing back was dismissed leg before wicket nine off Louis.
He was then followed by season debutant Horace Miller, who, after getting a ball that jumped from a good length from pacer Gavin Tonge, was caught behind for three.
The third wicket was that of André McCarthy, who, after labouring for 31 balls, and 35 minutes, was caught in the slips by an outswinger from Tonge for one.
However, thanks to Campbell, and Tamar Lambert, who made 45, Jamaica were able to stage a thrilling comeback with the pair putting on 72 for the fourth wicket. Campbell has so far hit two sixes.
The impressive Tonge, who picked up a five-wicket haul in the first innings, has so far been the Hurricanes’ top bowler with two for 37.
Lambert, while congratulating the Leewards on their second-innings display, is looking forward to his men wrapping up the encounter.
“At the moment, we are in a good position, and we just have to come tomorrow (today), get it right and get the required runs,” said Lambert.
“It is not over by any means, as a team like the Leewards will fight until the end, and I am sure they will get some time to assess things tonight and will be trying to come back at us tomorrow.”
Devon Smith, captain of the Leewards, is also optimistic about his team’s chances, despite admitting that they are on the back foot.
“We just have to try and come and get early wickets in the first hour, and try to put them under pressure,” he said. “We believe we can get six wickets, as we lost six wickets for five runs in an earlier match. So anything can happen.”