Port of Spain: West Indies rode their luck through a challenging first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka to reach 246 for six at stumps at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on Wednesday.
A 90-run sixth-wicket partnership between captain Jason Holder and wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich was critical in wresting the initiative from the tourists after they had chosen to bat first in conditions that did not appear particularly taxing.
However the Sri Lankan seamers put in a tremendous effort on a generally placid surface with Lahiru Kumara leading the way in claiming three for 57 off 18 overs, including the important wicket of Holder for 40 just when it seemed the all-rounder was about to accelerate against a tiring attack in a long final session marking the start of the visitors’ first-ever three-match Test series in the Caribbean.
Yet Dinesh Chandimal’s team had only themselves to blame for letting the home side off the hook after the tea interval.
Holder only added two runs after being badly missed by Roshen Silva at second slip off Kumara, however the more expensive lapse had occurred earlier when Dowrich, on 16, offered a straightforward chance to Angelo Mathews at slip off Dilruwan Perera’s off-spin and the opportunity was missed.
Relieved to have been granted that reprieve by Sri Lanka’s former captain, Dowrich played with exaggerated care thereafter and resumes on the second morning on 46 in partnership with Devendra Bishoo, who batted through the final 40 minutes of the day without getting off the mark.
Earlier, Devon Smith’s return to international cricket after more than three years ended in disappointment at the start of the day.
Opening the batting with Kraigg Brathwaite, the 36-year-old left-hander watched his partner depart in just the third over of the match, caught behind off experienced seamer Suranga Lakmal.
With the innings listing at 147 for five at that stage, the advantage was certainly with the Sri Lankans before the resistance of Dowrich and Holder, combined with the tourists’ sloppy outcricket, redressed the balance.