A rearguard action from Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich helped Windies fight back in the final session on Day 1 of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Port of Spain on Wednesday (June 6). Reduced to 147 for 5, Holder and Dowrich put on 90 runs – a record sixth wicket stand for Windies against Sri Lanka – to resurrect the innings, although the skipper departed late in the last hour before the second new ball was taken. The hosts ended the day at 246 for 6.
Windies, though, would rue that none of their settled batsmen could come up with a substantial score. Only Dowrich (unbeaten on 46) has an opportunity to get to a half-century while four others batsmen could not capitalise on their promising starts. Lahiru Kumara was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, finishing with three for 57 – this despite a couple of dropped catches. Sri Lanka, however, were guilty of not finishing the quota of 90 overs, with a poor over-rate leaving them six short of the mark.
Windies scored close to 100 runs at nearly four an over in the morning session but Sri Lanka had the edge on the hosts who kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With the conditions offering the pacers early help, Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage bowled testing lines at the start of the innings after Windies opted to bat. Having gone past the outside edge three times in as many deliveries, Lakmal reaped the reward for his persistence as he eventually got Kraigg Brathwaite to nick one while playing away from his body.
Kieran Powell looked impressive during his outing, showcasing strong defence and also the willingness to put away the loose ones, along with his text-book straight drives that served him well. Devon Thomas, playing his first Test in three years, was looking to support his fellow left-hander only for poor running between wickets to end his comeback innings at 7. With the ball getting older as the session progressed, stroke-making became easier for the batsmen. Powell and Shai Hope capitalised and they were also helped with the bowlers erring in their lengths. But Windies lost another wicket against the run of play with Powell defeated by a quick inswinger from Kumara.
Hope rode his luck at the start of the second session, edging a Gamage delivery to be saved by a no ball and later using the DRS to overturn a leg-before decision off the same bowler. The reprieves seemed to have toughened his resolve as he played with better application and seemed eager to play a big innings. He received good support from Roston Chase as the pair batted in a patient manner, minimising the risks and waiting for the bowlers to commit errors. This meant that runs did not come as quickly as they came in the opening session but the watchful partnership also meant that Windies did not lose a wicket in the first hour after Lunch.
Having done all the hard work, Hope was distraught when he had to walk back for 44, with a short delivery from Kumara putting him in an awkward position from which he ended up gloving the ball to the wicketkeeper. The trend of set batsmen departing continued when Chase, trying to play a back-foot drive off Rangana Herath, edged the ball to Angelo Mathews at first slip to leave the hosts in more trouble.
While Sri Lanka would have looked to make further inroads during the final session and bring the Windies innings to an early end, they had to endure a frustrating period of play. Skipper Holder led the fightback and was supported by a watchful Dowrich as they kept the Sri Lankan bowlers at bay. DRS came to Windies rescue again when Holder was adjudged leg-before off Lakmal. Holder had a lucky break when he appeared to have missed an innocuous delivery down the leg side from Kumara, only for replays to reveal that there was an edge but Sri Lanka had not appealed.
Meanwhile, the partnership grew from strength to strength as the session progressed. With the Sri Lankan bowlers tiring, the line and lengths were off the mark on occasions, allowing the sixth wicket pair to collect a few boundaries. Sri Lanka’s frustrations mounted with both Dowrich and Holder being put down in the slip cordon – Kumara being the unlucky bowler on both occasions. But Kumara finally got his reward when Holder edged the ball to the ‘keeper, with Sri Lanka’s use of DRS confirming the same.
Dowrich had Devendra Bishoo’s company – who faced 32 deliveries without opening his account – as they saw Windies through to stumps without any further damage to round off a session that Windies could claim was theirs after being under the pump in the earlier ones.
Brief scores: Windies 246/6 (Shane Dowrich 46*, Shai Hope 44, Jason Holder 40; Lahiru Kumara 3-57, Suranga Lakmal 1-38) vs Sri Lanka.
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