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A century by Kevin Stoute upstaged Rommell Small’s six-wicket haul as ICBL Empire won a nail-biting contest for first innings lead over ESA Field Pickwick on the second day of their top-of-the-table fourth-round LIME Elite Division match yesterday. Replying to Pickwick’s 193 and starting the day on eight for one, Empire earned a solid 53-run first innings lead on the strength of a last wicket stand of 88 between Stoute and Tennyson Roach. Empire eventually fell for 246 off 61.2 overs and Pickwick limped to 31 for three in 12 overs before bad light ended play. With Empire on the ropes at 158 for nine shortly after tea, which was taken at 150 for six, the left-handed Roach (30 not out) joined Stoute, who was still a few runs short of his half century. The pair frustrated the Pickwick bowlers first of all, helping the home side to secure a couple of batting points and then first innings lead. Had Kyle Hope taken a catch at mid-wicket offered by Stoute off Small when the score was 177, the outcome would have been different. Stoute went on to complete his century off 99 balls in 155 minutes with five fours and 14 threes. He played with aplomb on both sides of the pitch at one point driving West Indies pacer Tino Best straight for three and cutting the next delivery square for another boundary. Earlier, opener Kodi Phillips (42) and captain Jamal Smith (26) extended their second-wicket partnership to 66, but when Small trapped Phillips lbw, it triggered a slide that was only halted by the last wicket pair.