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An unbroken 73-run fifth-wicket stand between captain Jamal Smith and allrounder Ryan Hinds kept ICBL Empire’s hopes of snatching first innings honours alive against fellow title contenders CGI Maple. Smith and Hinds came together with the hosts struggling on 70 for four in reply to 245 all out made by the visitors and carried the score to 143 by the close of the second day of their ninth series LIME Elite match. Hinds, the main aggressor in the alliance will resume today on 48 while Smith who came to the crease at the fall of the first wicket continues from 30 not out. Frontrunners Maple, leading Empire by one point at the beginning of the current series, resumed from an overweek 193 for seven. The innings was interrupted by a heavy shower half hour after the start, resulting in the loss of 12 overs. By then they had lost Barrington Yearwood for 11 but Shane Ramsay joined with Collis Worrell to further frustrate Empire’s quest to quickly wrap up Maple’s first innings. The aggressive Ramsay threw caution to the wind and made all but one of his 25 runs in boundaries (4 threes, three fours) before being caught off Hinds’ left arm spin. Wicketkeeper Worrell fell shortly after for 67 (9 threes, 2 fours, 129 balls, 205 minutes). In reply, opener Kodi Phillips did all the early scoring for Empire as his partner Jason Haynes remained scoreless for 25 deliveries. Phillips was, however, the first to go for 29 out of a partnership of 37. Offspinner Ramsay (2-35) then prised out an impatient Haynes and Roston Chase while Kevin Stoute’s brief stay was ended by a spectacular catch by Shane Parris at shortleg off Ramsey’s off-spinning partner Ramon Greaves (2-31) to bring Hinds to the crease. The lefthander launched a counterattack against the threatening spinners and has so far stroked six threes and four fours in his 78-minute, 42-ball knock. Smith, who survived a run out chance at 27, adopted the role of sheet anchor and had been at the wicket for over two hours, facing 88 balls and striking five fours.