Dowrich, pacers script Windies day of domination

Windies pacers delivered early strikes after a resolute century from Shane Dowrich and his determined partnerships with the lower order helped the hosts finish with a strong total on Day 2 of the first Test in Port of Spain on Thursday (June 7). In 52 overs across the first two sessions only 104 runs were added with Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach helping Dowrich in a stonewalling effort that kept Sri Lanka at bay. Windies managed to up the ante in the final session, adding 64 in 18 overs before declaring the innings 414 for 8 to have a go at the Sri Lankan batsmen. The home team’s pacers came to the party, with Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder picking up a wicket apiece to leave the visitors struggling at 31 for 3 at Stumps.

Kusal Mendis fell for a first-ball duck, going after a widish delivery from Roach while Gabriel had Kusal Mendis edging to Holder at third slip. Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews then had to handle some hostile fast bowling. The Lankan skipper was struck on his forearm by Roach and had to get some strapping while Mathews was troubled by short deliveries from Gabriel and was even struck on the helmet, shortly after being put down by Holder.

The Windies captain, bringing himself towards the end of the day, managed to find the outside edge of Mathews’s bat. The third umpire’s help was sought to check if the bowler had over-stepped and it seemed a 50-50 decision which eventually went in favour of the bowler. Windies response with the ball was in stark contrast to the way Sri Lanka went about it, with the home team’s menacing line and lengths, and the pace to supplement it, leaving the visiting team in a lot of trouble.

Earlier, a patient partnership for the seventh wicket between Dowrich and Bishoo, which lasted for nearly 50 overs, frustrated Sri Lanka. It was a partnership that started in the final session on the opening day and went well into the the post-lunch period the following day as Dowrich and Bishoo added 102 off 299 deliveries, showcasing tremendous patience and application, to keep the Sri Lankan bowlers waiting.

It was slow going for Windies in the first session, one that was curtailed by rain. Showers moments before the start of Day 2 caused a 50-minute delay and only 9.1 overs were bowled before rain returned, with Windies having added 22 to their overnight total. That was sufficient time for Dowrich to become the first half-centurion of the innings and for Bishoo to get off the mark, which he did off his 33rd delivery. The Sri Lankan pacers went past the outside edge multiple times in the shortened session but there were no rewards for them as their seventh wicket pair remained defiant.

The entertainment quotient may have been lacking, but there was no shortage of resilience as Dowrich and Bishoo’s single-minded approach was to wear the opposition down, and in the process build the total. At the start of the session, there were a couple of loose shots – an attempted drive by Dowrich that went through the vacant fourth-slip area for a four and a lofted drive from Bishoo that just about evaded the fielder at mid-off. Barring those, there was hardly any show of aggression from Dowrich and Bishoo, who were content to play the waiting game.

The sedate approach acted like a barricade that blocked out any avenue for a wicket for Sri Lanka and in the process both Dowrich and Bishoo played their longest Test innings of their careers. It was well after Windies had crossed 300 that Bishoo attempted to have a go at the short deliveries from the pacemen, which resulted in a couple of boundaries. However, in what was a rare occasion of a lapse in concentration, an attempt to slash at a Suranga Lakmal delivery resulted in Bishoo’s dismissal for a 160-ball 40.

But Sri Lanka’s anguish did not end with that wicket as Roach proved an able ally for Dowrich as he managed to hold his own. Having survived a leg-before review from Sri Lanka, Roach 24 deliveries to get off the mark while Dowrich, at the other end, was in no hurry to reach the three-figure mark. He eventually got there, off the final ball before Tea.

Roach took a more aggressive route in the last session, managing five fours and the only six of Windies’ innings during his 75-run stand with Dowrich that helped Windies past 400. Roach’s 95-ball stay for 39 runs came to an end when he tried to take on Lahiru Kumara, who finished with a four-wicket haul. Dowrich remained unbeaten at the time of the declaration, finishing with a career-best 125 off 325 deliveries.

Brief scores: Windies 350/7 (Shane Dowrich 125*, Shai Hope 44; Lahiru Kumara 4-95) lead Sri Lanka 31/3 (Angelo Mathews 11; Kemar Roach 1-2) by 383 runs.

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