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HOST?COUNTRY Barbados hold a half-point lead over Trinidad and Tobago heading into the third round of cricket matches in the Regional Under-19 Three-Day Tournament, starting today.
Barbados, on 18.5 points will oppose defending champions Jamaica at the Police Sports Complex, Weymouth while Trinidad and Tobago, second on 18 points, face Guyana, who are third on 16 points, at Pine Basin.
The other match will be between Windward Islands (12.5 points) and the Leeward Islands at the Desmond Haynes Oval, Black Rock.
The Bajans were unable to push for an outright victory against the Leewards in their second-round match at Bayfield because the final day was rained out following the passage of Tropical Storm Ernesto.
With captain Shai Hope in fine batting form – hitting a century against both of Barbados’ opponents so far, the Windwards and Leewards – Barbados will be looking for a victory over Jamaica, who are fourth on 9.5 points.
Encouragingly, Barbados have also benefited from fast bowling bonus points, especially in the last game, when pacers Darnell Greenidge and Akeem Jordan shared seven first innings wickets.
Under the playing conditions, a half point is given for each wicket taken by a fast bowler. But the absence of a third genuine pacer in the Barbados team allowed the Leewards to recover from a precarious position of 16 for five after Greenidge and Jordan had completed their stipulated six overs each in a session.
Coach Dexter Toppin has acknowledged that the Bajans are playing “some reasonably good cricket” but believes a more aggressive approach is now required if Barbados are to replicate the 2008 title success under Kyle Corbin when the tournament was last played here.
“I think if you want to win the tournament, you have to be aggressive and you have to be positive,” he said Friday after the wash-out against the Leewards.      
Barbados have listed the same squad for both games but either off-spinner Neil Persaud or the left-handed middle order batsman Marlon Welcome-Goodman, who is also a useful bowler, could be selected in the final 11.
Points standings:
Barbados 18.5, Trinidad & Tobago 18, Guyana 16, Windward Islands 12.5, Jamaica 9.5, Leeward Islands 6.