The Windies are gearing up for their first day-night Test in the Caribbean, at a venue where the hosts have enjoyed a good record in recent times. Jason Holder’s side have beaten Pakistan and England in the last two Tests played at the Kensington Oval – a surface which Holder believes is “truly Caribbean”.
“The pitch is very truly Caribbean,” Holder said on the eve of the Test on Friday (June 22). “And the last two pitches here in Kensington Oval in Test matches deteriorated quite quickly. This pitch seems to have a lot more grass cover on it, it should be a really good Test match. The ground looks in pretty good shape, the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
In the last two Tests at the Kensington Oval, the Windies came from behind after conceding the first-innings lead to win the games and with the current series against Sri Lanka standing at 1-0, Holder has called for more consistency from his players.
“I try to get the guys to focus on the process, we’ve got to know what we need to do in order to win a Test match,” Holder said. “We’ve got to do small things over a long period of time, our bowlers have got to be a lot more consistent, our batsmen convert most of the starts we’ve been getting. I think the guys are really up for the occasion and everybody knows what’s at stake.
“We’re playing some really good cricket in the series. Individual performances have really stood out, and we really came together as a side. The first Test match was obviously exceptional, probably we were not at our best in our last Test match in St Lucia.”
The bowlers have so far done the job for the home side against Sri Lanka. They have managed to scalp all 40 wickets in the two Tests with the batsmen having let them down. There has been only one hundred scored in the series, by Shane Dowrich, and three fifties that have not been converted into bigger scores. Even in the previous away series in New Zealand, Kraigg Brathwaite’s 91 remained the highest score for the Windies in the two matches.
“Yeah, it’s obviously an area of concern for us,” the skipper acknowledged. “We’ve had a number of starts over the last couple of Test series but the batsmen haven’t been able to carry on. I just think it’s matter for us to focus on every particular delivery, not get too far ahead. I always stress on the process and we need to be playing ball by ball and not looking too far ahead down the line. Obviously, once you get those starts, it’s about focusing a little bit harder on those twenties and thirties and push past the landmark and hopefully take it really big.”
Shannon Gabriel has been the pick of the bowlers in the series with 17 wickets, which includes a record 13-wicket haul in the second Test. Holder attributed the bowlers’ success to their adaptability. In the first Test with the surface aiding the spinners, it was Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase who bowled the hosts to a 226-run win and in the second, there was assistance for the faster bowlers and Gabriel exploited that remarkably.
“I think the pitch at St Lucia offered a lot for our bowlers as well,” Holder said. “With these pitches offering something on the first couple of days of a Test match, it is important our bowlers find the length and line early. Some of us tend to get carried away although the pitch might be helpful, not still being able to put the ball in the correct area and draw the batsman forward and lure him into [edging] behind in the slip cordon. There’s still a chance for our bowlers to adjust to the surface, we don’t know how it’s going to play, we’re not going to sit here and assume. Whatever the situations and the conditions, I think it’s a matter for our bowlers to make the adjustment early and find the relevant length and line to bowl.”
The Windies escaped the second Test with a draw and still lead the series 1-0. The third Test, a day-night affair, starts on Saturday (June 23) at the Kensington Oval.
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