Valiant first innings batting key to outcome: Holder

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Captain Jason Holder has pointed to West Indies’ rear guard batting effort in the first innings as the foundation of Sunday’s 226-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening Test.

The hosts were floundering at 147 for five just before tea on the opening day when Shane Dowrich, who made a splendid unbeaten 125, anchored three key partnerships to help lift the total to 414 for eight declared.

Dowrich put on 90 for the sixth wicket with Holder (40), 102 for the seventh wicket with tail-ender Devendra Bishoo (40) before crushing Sri Lanka’s spirits in a 75-run, eighth wicket stand with Kemar Roach (39).

“Credit to the batters and the bowlers. I thought it was an exceptional effort,” Holder told reporters. “To put us in that position on the first day’s play into the second day’s play with the bat, for a total in excess of 400 was really good. It gave our bowlers an opportunity to come out and run at the Sri Lankans.

“Our lower order has probably been one of the most consistent lower orders in world cricket for the last two, three years and I always back the guys to put up a partnership and put a fight.”

He continued: “It really started with the partnership that Shane and I had, then Devendra came in and played an outstanding knock and not only did he take time out of the game but he also scored as well. That really wore down the Sri Lankan bowlers and made it tough for them.”

The victory for West Indies was their first over Sri Lanka in 10 years and handed them a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, ahead of Thursday’s start of the the second Test in St Lucia.

And with West Indies having endured a humbling whitewash to New Zealand in a two-Test series last December, Holder said Sunday’s victory was an ideal start to his side’s Test schedule for the year.

“It feels really good. I thought the preparation was very good,” Holder explained. “We had a lot of time to sit back and reflect on how the year ended last year and to come to start this Test series the way we started it is quite pleasing, knowing in the past we have been a little lacklustre in starting series and playing catch-up cricket.

“It is good to come out of the gates on a winning note and hopefully we can continue in St Lucia.”

Prior to the Test, there were calls from sections of the Trinidad cricket community for a boycott, to protest what some saw as unfair treatment of their international players by West Indies selectors.

However, Holder said his side had been buoyed by the support of the Queen’s Park Oval crowd.

“I’m sure everybody is upbeat about the victory. Everybody was very supportive of the team,” he said.“Obviously [there was some] talk about people not being interested in Test cricket and not coming out to support us but I must say credit to the Trinidad public for supporting us over the last five days.

“I think the crowd support was tremendous, they really got behind us throughout the game and we fed off of that energy.”