PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Several West Indies batsmen got starts but failed to carry on, leaving wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich to hold the innings together, on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka here yesterday.
Opting to bat first in good conditions at Queen’s Park Oval, the Windies finished the day on 246 for six, with the right-handed Dowrich unbeaten on a compact 46 and tail-ender Devendra Bishoo yet to score. Stroke-maker Shai Hope produced a classy 44 and captain Jason Holder struck 40 while Roston Chase and Kieran Powell both gathered 38.
Pacer Lahiru Kumara was impressive, leading the Sri Lanka attack with three for 57. West Indies proved their own worst enemy, squandering the advantage every time they looked poised to take control of the innings.
They suffered an early blow when they lost usually prolific opener Kraigg Brathwaite for just three with four runs on the board, caught at the wicket off seamer Suranga Lakmal in the third over of the morning.
In a beautiful exhibition of seam bowling, Lakmal beat Brathwaite with the first two balls of the over, got him to defend the third one before finding the edge off the fourth, with wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella snaring the offering diving to his right.
He spent nearly an hour-and-a-half at the crease without much of the strike before failing to beat Kumara’s throw from short mid-wicket to Dickwella, as he and Powell attempted a sharp single.
On 40 for two, the Windies flourished in the second hour as Powell and Hope then entertained in a 40-run third wicket stand.
Hope, quick on the pull and stylish on the drive, punched nine fours in a 90-ball knock which required 127 minutes.
Powell, meanwhile, who has failed to capitalise on a string of starts since his return to Test cricket a year ago, counted six fours off 68 balls in just over an hour at the crease.
He looked a certainty for a half-century when, against the run of play, he inside-edged a drive at Kumara and lost his leg stump.
Chase joined Hope to see the Windies safely to lunch without any further loss at 99 for three and ensured Sri Lanka remained wicket-less for an hour following the resumption, as they staged a 54-run, fourth wicket partnership.
Hope, in particular, rode his luck. He was caught behind off a no-ball in the first over after lunch from seamer Lahiru Gamage, before he had added to his interval 29.
Two overs later, he was adjudged lbw also to Gamage on 33 but was reprieved by DRS, with replays showing an inside edge as he played back.
However, his luck finally deserted him in the second over following the drinks break when he was caught down the leg-side by Dickwella, gloving a lifter from the lively Kumara.
Chase, who faced 82 deliveries and struck five fours, followed with 13 runs added when he was caught at slip by Angelo Mathews, edging a forcing back foot shot off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, 20 minutes before tea.
His dismissal left the Windies tottering somewhat on 147 for five but Dowrich and Holder combined in a 90-run stand to dig their side out of trouble.
On 153 for five at tea, West Indies grabbed the advantage in the first hour after the interval as the Barbadian pair emerged from a slow start to score freely. Dowrich, dropped on 16 at slip by Mathews off off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, has so far faced 131 deliveries in nearly 3-1/4 hours while Holder counted four boundaries off 91 balls in a shade over two hours at the crease.
Dropped on 38 by Roshen Silva at slip off Kumara, Holder added only two more before perishing two overs later, caught at the wicket toe-edging a drive at a full length delivery.
He was initially given not out but eventually sent on his way after Sri Lanka took recourse through DRS.