HE may be small in stature and still inexperienced at the Test level but Shane Dowrich delivered. A mature century from the diminutive wicketkeeper placed the West Indies in a strong position at the close of day two in the first Test match against Sri Lanka at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair, yesterday.
Resuming the day’s play on 246 for six in the first innings, an unbeaten 125 from Dowrich and 40 from Devendra Bishoo got West Indies to 414 for eight declared. In response, Sri Lanka were struggling at 31/3 at the close of play.
It was Dowrich’s second Test century, a knock that came off 325 deliveries and included 12 fours.
Describing Dowrich’s knock after the day’s play, Bishoo said, “It was a very, very good innings. Me and him put on about 102 runs in the partnership. We took it step by step, what we were planning is to take it 20 (runs) by 20. I think he batted really well.”
It was a nervous time for Dowrich in the nineties. On 94, Dowrich survived a confident appeal for caught behind off fast bowler Suranga Lakmal. Sri Lanka asked for the decision to be reviewed but replays showed the ball brushed Dowrich’s leg on the way to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
Dowrich was also a bit tentative against spinner Herath as he played and missed.
It was a small crowd at the Oval, but they tried to give Dowrich some encouragement. A handful of Secondary school students got up from their seats and hung over the balcony in the Carib Beer Stand to cheer on Dowrich as he inched closer to his century.
Dowrich escaped again as an aerial straight drive by the right hander fell just in front of Herath.
The Bajan continued to look a bit nervy with a sweep shot that found the top edge as the pair got two runs to take Dowrich to 99. Dowrich finally got his century with a single on the leg side off Herath, punching the air in delight. The first innings total by the West Indies never looked possible as West Indies were reduced to 147/5 on day one. Resistance from Windies captain Jason Holder and Dowrich late on day one seemed to inspire another fighting performance by Devendra Bishoo yesterday.
Bishoo, who joined Dowrich late on day one, batted with his usual determination yesterday to help take the match away from Sri Lanka. Left-handed Bishoo, another man small in stature, played beyond his height and role on the team. After a short morning session because of rain, West Indies resumed on 268/6 after lunch. Dowrich and Bishoo then patiently went about frustrating the Sri Lankan bowlers as they put on 102 for the seventh wicket.
Bishoo played smartly, taking singles to give Dowrich the strike as the partnership grew to 50 off 148 balls with Bishoo contributing 11. It was patient batting by the pair with occasional boundaries. Bishoo started to play more aggressively, including a straight four that just evaded the mid-off fielder as West Indies approached 300.
To add to the worries of the Sri Lankans, Dowrich struck the silly mid-on fielder just below the knee after sweeping Herath, forcing the Sri Lankan medical staff to run onto the field.
West Indies continued to show resistance, progressing to 319/6 at drinks with Dowrich 85 and Bishoo 29. As Bishoo continued to increase the scoring rate, Dowrich was content to score in singles as he approached the nineties.
Bishoo’s resistance finally ended, as he was caught by Roshen Silva at gully for 40, playing the ball away from his body to give Lakmal the wicket. Dowrich got his century on the stroke of tea, as West Indies progressed to 350/7 at tea with Dowrich on 100 and Kemar Roach on four.
After tea, Roach and Dowrich played more aggressively. Roach was given out leg-before to Dilruwan Perera, but Roach asked for a referral and the decision was changed. Roach brought up the 400 for West Indies with a straight four, which was followed by a six over mid-wicket as Roach got into the thirties. Shortly after, Roach was well caught for 39 at mid-off by Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal as West Indies declared on 414/8 with Dowrich 125 not out.
It was a disastrous start for Sri Lanka as Roach got the first breakthrough when Kusal Perera was caught by Roston Chase at point for duck, before Shannon Gabriel got the wicket off Kusal Mendis for four caught at third slip by Holder. It could have been two wickets in two balls for Gabriel but Holder dropped Angelo Mathews.
Holder made amends as Chase caught Mathews off Holder’s bowling for 11 in the slips. Sri Lanka closed on 31/3 still trailing Windies by 383 runs. The match resumes at 10 am today.