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UNRESOLVED PROTESTS have heightened speculation, resulting in a myriad of probabilities in the continuation of the Barbados Cricket Association’s (BCA) rescheduled LIME Elite first series, today and tomorrow. With the abandoned match between leaders ICBL Empire and relegation threatened Carlton in which each team got three points, headed for arbitration, CGI Maple and defending champions Sagicor UWI are now the main contenders for the $20 000 first prize. Both Maple and UWI will be pushing for outright victories when play resumes in the matches which started on May 4 but were postponed to accommodate the regional first-class final between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago at Kensington Oval. Arbitration aside, Empire would have ended the competition on 96 points when the three points gained from the first day’s play are added, while Carlton’s final count would be 59. Those points won’t change unless the arbiter finds a breach of the rules or playing conditions by either team in not continuing play after requesting and being granted permission to finish their first-round match as originally scheduled. It means that should Maple, who are now on 95 points after gaining four bowling points, go on to win even without getting any batting points, they would still be crowned champions. Maple will resume on 18 without loss in pursuit of SuperCentre Spartan’s first innings total of 182 in their encounter at Queen’s Park. A lot will depend on veteran Pedro Agard, who now has 435 runs, Shane Parris (345) and Collis Worrell (268) to gain first innings lead. However, should they only get maximum batting points and first innings lead in a drawn match, they would finish on 102 points. In that case, they would be hoping that UWI, now third on 86 points, fail to defeat the Barbados Defence Force (BDFSP), who are also facing demotion, in their match at Paragon. Already with three bowling points, which have pushed their overall tally to 56 points, BDFSP, with the inform Marlon Welcome-Goodman, must at least get a couple of batting points and earn a draw to keep alive their hopes of staying in the top flight division. But UWI can move to 102 should they get the remaining 16 points and, should Maple fail to beat Spartan, can clinch the title or share it. UWI have boosted their bowling by bringing in fast bowler Carlos Brathwaite and left-arm spinner Kristopher Ramsaran to replace Chadwick Walton and Steven Jacobs. Spin twins Ryan Austin and Akeem Dewar should be a handful for the BDFSP, who will have the services of new soldier Renaldo Brathwaite, their most accomplished batsman. LIME, on 57 points, are not safe as they will need to wrap up Guardian General Barbados Youth’s innings of 278 for seven swiftly and produce a big batting effort. If the likes of captain Randy Thomas and the three replacement players, Courtney Browne, Dalton Polius and Hayden Walsh, can help them to get at least two batting points and the game is drawn, LIME will overtake Carlton’s 59 by one point. In the event that BDFSP, LIME and Carlton finish on the same points, Carlton by virtue of not winning a match, will be relegated. But should LIME fail to secure any batting points in a drawn match, and the protest against Spartan does not go in their favour, they could end on 58 points, one fewer than Carlton. Republic Bank St Catherine, by virtue of their 128-run triumph over UWI in the last series, eased their relegation worries. With two batting points already in the bag, they will restart today on 221 for three against fourth-placed ESAF Pickwick at Bayfield. Significantly, Kenroy Williams, this year’s leading batsman with 601 runs, is not out on 71. He would be aiming for his first century of the season as well as trying to end with the highest aggregate as Spartan have replaced Rohan Nurse with Rashidi Boucher, who now has a chance to add to his 556 runs. Williams has also made his mark with his off spin, the fourth highest wicket-taker with 33 wickets. St Catherine also boast of the leading bowler in experienced left-arm spinner Derick Bishop with 48 wickets. Bishop has also chipped in with 278 runs. Whatever St Catherine’s total, Pickwick, who are fourth on 81 points and still have a mathematical chance of winning the title, will depend heavily on Kyle Hope and his brother Shai, who has been drafted in to replace Jade Padmore. They will hope resurgent off-spinner Romelle Small, who is second to Bishop on 36 wickets, can dismiss St Catherine cheaply in their second innings in order to pull off an unlikely victory.