(Jamaica Observer) Left-arm finger spinner Nikita Miller returned to the Jamaica Scorpions line-up with a bang, snatching a tidy seven-wicket haul that left the hosts slightly on top against Leeward Islands Hurricanes on day one of the ninth round West Indies Championship four-day match at Sabina Park yesterday.
The ever-reliable Miller, who was one of five players brought into the Scorpions line-up, bowled his slow orthodox with usual accuracy in snaring 7-50 to restrict the Hurricanes to 210.
Scorpions, in their turn at bat, were looking steady at 77 for two courtesy of the in-form Brandon King and Jermaine Blackwood, who led them to a walloping eight-wicket victory over Guyana Jaguars on last.
King shook off a nervy start to progress to an unbeaten 35, while the attacking Blackwood is not out on 31.
The two will resume batting at 10:00 am today.
Earlier, Miller’s heroics came at a critical stage after top scorer Devon Thomas (65) and wicketkeeper/batsman Jahmar Hamilton (43) forged a 96-run fourth-wicket stand that laid a platform for Hurricanes to waltz to a daunting total.
Thomas hammered nine boundaries and two sixes in his 88-ball innings, with the more patient Hamilton striking four boundaries in a 118-ball knock.
Miller was supported by medium pacer Alwyn Williams (2-28).
Scores: Leeward Islands Hurricanes 210 all out (66 overs); Jamaica Scorpions 77-2 (23 overs).
After winning the toss and electing to bowl first, the Scorpions made early inroads in the first hour of play and had the Hurricanes at 60-3 at one point on the grass surface which offered sideways movement to the seamers, as well as sharp bounce and turn to the spinners.
Williams, who came in for Derval Green, justified his addition by trapping Hurricane’s Captain Kieran Powell in front with his second delivery, and later had the other opener Montcin Hodge (35) caught in gully by King.
Miller got in on the act soon after with the wicket of young Keacy Carty (seven), who miscued a drive and was caught by Williams in the cover region.
However, that was all the fortune the Scorpions would have in the first session, as Thomas and Hamilton saw the Hurricanes to lunch at 95-3.
The two continued to work the Scorpions bowlers around after the interval, before briskly taking the partnership past the 50-run mark after Reynard Leveridge put down a catch offered by Thomas at mid-on, while on 38.
Thomas, once a member of the Jamaican franchise, obliged by bringing up his milestone, but his demise came shortly after with the score at 156.
He chased a delivery down the leg side and was caught behind by Oraine Williams off Akim Frazer, who ironically was the dejected bowler when Thomas was put down earlier.
It was clear that the 36-year-old Miller was just about getting into his groove when he had Terrance Ward (eight) adjudged leg-before-wicket, as he celebrated the wicket with a slow, steady rock.
Hamilton took up the mantle but did not stick around too long either, and was sixth man out being bowled by the experienced Miller, who picked up the last six Hurricanes wicket for a measly 54 runs.
Only the burly Rahkeem Cornwall with 21 off 32 offered little resistance in the lower order before Miller brushed his outside edge for Blackwood to accept a comfortable catch in the slip cordon.
Jamaican-born Damion Jacobs (12), Quinton Boatswain (zero) and Kian Pemberton (zero) all went leg-before-wicket in Miller’s wake.
Scorpions response started miserably with Kennar Lewis, who came in for Chadwick Walton, falling cheaply for four, after edging to Powell in second slip off Sheno Berridge.
The other opener Oraine Williams, who was brought in for wicketkeeper Aldaine Thomas, chased a wide delivery from Boatswain and was nicely picked up by Montcin Hodge in the gully.
With the score at 23-2, King and Blackwood had some work to do on repairing the innings, and that they did.
Blackwood, in his usual aggressive style, took the Hurricanes bowlers to task, striking four boundaries in his 40-ball 31, which has so far dominated the 54-run third-wicket stand.
King found his range in the end and struck four boundaries, including one that raised the 50-run partnership at the end, in his 67-ball knock.