Sri Lanka’s 226-run loss to the West Indies in the first test match at Port of Spain Trinidad must leave much food for thought. In quite the reverse of big expectations of capitalizing on what was thought to be a weak home team, the Lankans were completely outplayed in all departments of the game. The West Indies led by Jason Holder, who was installed by its national selectors a few years ago in a shakeup of accentuating on new blood following a dispute with senior players, came on top in a reversal of its recent form book of losing to opposing teams. While it marked a joyous chapter for a nation grappling to reclaim its former glory.
For the Lankans it was a bitter pill to swallow. Sri Lanka’s bowling was found wanting which was best illustrated by the fact that the home team was let off the hook in the first innings from a precarious 5 for 147 to reach 418 for 8 declared with No.6 batsman Shane Dowrich frustrating the bowlers for seven hours and 8 minutes for an unbeaten 125. The sixth wicket partnership of 90 between Holder and Dowrich and 102-run stand between Bishoo and Dowrich and unbeaten 79 for the seventh wicket between Dowrich and Roach magnified the lower order West Indian domination. In that blotch, the individual performance of young rookie pace bowler Lahiru Kumara who had a match haul of 7 for 135 (4/95 and 3/40) was encouraging.
That the Lankan batting fell apart as well being shot out for 185 in the first innings against hostile pace bowling underscored a skeleton in the manner of strokeplay by the failure to cope with quality bowling. The second innings debacle of being bowled out for 223 in losing the last five wickets for eight runs in just 25 deliveries once again marked brittle batting with the exception of centurion Kusal Mendis on a pitch that was conducive for batting. Twenty-three year old Mendis was the only bright spark for the Lankans to smile about. He made 102 off 210 balls inclusive of 10 boundaries and 2 sixes. Significantly Sri Lanka was mainly undone by spin in the second essay with R.L. Chase claiming 4 for 15 and D. Bishoo 3 for 48 while paceman Gabriel took 2 for 52.
In effect, the loss will leave the Sri Lankan team management mulling certain selections and new options for the second test starting on June 14 at St. Lucia.
West Indies 1st Innings 418/8 decl.
(S.O. Dowrich n.o. 125, S.D. Hope 44, J.O. Holder 40, K.A.J. Roach 39, K.O.A. Powell 38,
C.B.R.L.S. Kumara 4/95, R.A.S. Lakmal 2/55).
And 223/7 decl.
(K.O.A. Powell 88, Holder 39, Kumara 3/40).
Sri Lanka 1st Innings 185 All Out
(L.D. Chandimal 44, N. Dickwella 31, M.D.K. Perera 20, M.L. Cmmins 3/39, K.A.J. Roach 2/34, S.T. Gabriel 2/48).
And 226 All out.
(B.K.G. Mendis 102, A.D. Mathews 31, L.D. Chandimal 27,
R.L. Chase 4/15, D. Bishoo 3/48, S.T. Gabriel 2/52).
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-