Tonge on song in Leewards warm-up

BASSETERRE, St Kitts ­ -- Gavin Tonge was in fine form with both bat and ball as he steered Omari Banks XI into a commanding position as the Leeward Islands began their first practice match for the 2009 West Indies Cricket Board’s Four-Day Regional Tournament.

Tonge blasted an attacking half century to steer his side to 232 and then picked up two wickets to leave the Runako Morton’s XI struggling at 17-2 in reply at the Molyneux Ground. The 25-year-old former West Indies Under-19 and West Indies “A” Team player, smashed eight fours and two sixes in 69 to steer the Banks XI beyond the 200-mark.

The Banks XI enjoyed little success from their top-order batsman with the exception of opener Shane Jeffers, who scored 65 with eight boundaries.

Teenager Chesney Hughes led the bowling for Morton’s side 4-65 and got good support from medium pacer Brent DeFreitas (2-25).

Tonge’s impact on the game continued when Morton’s XI batted as his pace bowling rattled the top order and left them in an unsteady position entering the second day. He finished his opening spell with figures of 2-4 off three overs and left captain Morton, on 13 not out, fighting to keep his side in the game.

The Leeward Islands are slated to face the Windward Islands in a practice match this weekend before opening their campaign against reigning champions Jamaica in the 2009 WICB Four-day Regional Tournament on January 9 in St Kitts.