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Gamble pays off

Haydn Gill in Bank Hall

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Call it tit for tat.
ICBL Empire yesterday duplicated Sagicor UWI’s surprising first day declaration with a similarly astonishing gamble in an attempt to deny the runaway leaders any bowling points.
And the move paid big dividends on the second day of their top-of-the-table sixth round LIME Elite Division match.
Responding to UWI’s 204 for eight, Empire were cruising on 195 for one, but after losing three wickets for the addition of 12 runs, that left them 207 for four, captain Jamal Smith called his team in.
While Empire had achieved the satisfaction of claiming three points for first innings lead and another two for batting, they opted not press for a significant advantage and closed their innings at 5:08 p.m. with UWI still needing one wicket to get two bowling points.
Even if some observers reckoned the tactics of both sides bordered on reducing proceedings to a farce, the two declarations set up the possibility of an exciting finish.
UWI were to face 20 overs before the close, but bad light limited the action to 11 overs in which they stuttered to 36 for three, in danger of surrendering their 100 per cent winning record.
Empire dictated the pace for most of the day but their progress was thwarted by three stoppages for rain that accounted for the loss of almost an hour-and-a-half.
Openers Jason Haynes and Jamal Smith extended their unbroken overweek stand of 90 to 116 and after the latter ran himself out, Alcindo Holder joined Haynes in adding 76 in a second wicket stand.
Haynes provided the anchor role in a solid 71 but lost Smith on 51 when the captain was run out by Jonathan Carter’s throw from short backward square when the batsmen attempted a non-existent run.
Roston Chase was forced for retire hurt before he scored after a fierce straight drive from Haynes struck him on the right wrist at the non-striker’s end.
The second wicket stand continued with the arrival of Holder, who lashed 43 off 57 balls with seven threes and three fours that all sailed out of the tiny ground. Most of them came off top-rated off-spinner Ryan Austin, who went wicketless in ten overs that cost 59 runs.
Pacer Marques Clarke produced an inspired post-tea spell in which he bagged the wickets of Haynes and Kevin Stoute to miscued pulls and when Holder was undone by a ball from that Carter that jumped from a good length, Empire called it a day.