Holder’s five-for gives West Indies opening-day honours

Report

Kemar Roach finds his rhythm after fruitless first session to drive home West Indies’ advantage

Stumps West Indies 13 for 0 trail Sri Lanka 169 (Thirimanne 70, Dickwella 32, Holder 5-27, Roach 3-47) by 156 runs

Only Lahiru Thirimanne and Niroshan Dickwella stood between the West Indian bowlers and the Sri Lankan tail, after the second session too went the way of the hosts. Thirimanne was unbeaten on 56 – a scrappy yet fairly solid innings, considering the circumstances – while Dickwella, with a few characteristic kamikaze moments thrown in, had added 21.

The standout performer for the home side was undoubtedly Kemar Roach who, after a fruitless first session, was finally rewarded for his persistent lines and lengths.

His first victim was Dhananjaya De Silva; having got a few to move away past the outside edge of the right-hander, he eventually got his man, luring him into the drive but this time seaming the ball back in past the inside edge to clip the top of off stump. It was a well setup wicket, and one that was just reward for a consummate Test-match spell.

And it was more of the same for Roach’s second. Immediately after the drinks break, he would get another good length delivery to move ever-so-slightly away from the batsman – this time Nissanka – whose gentle defensive prod could only find its way to first slip.

At this point the West Indies would have loved to have bowled two seamers in tandem; any combination of Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder, would have sufficed. However a slow overrate meant the West Indies were forced to bowl the spin of Rakheem Cornwall from one end for much of the session.

They would also liked to have utilised Shannon Gabriel more, but he continued to struggle with his control – while also noticeably short of breath at one point after his spell.

All this meant that neither Thirimanne or Dickwella looked too troubled in their 37-run stand, and with the pitch looking easier for the batsmen will be optimistic about sticking around till the end of play.

Much of the damage for the visitors however took place in the morning session when they yet again lost their top-order for barely 50 runs on the board. Cornwall and Holder had picked up a wicket a piece, while Kraigg Brathwaite had effected a splendid runout.

Though it could have been much worse for Sri Lanka if the West Indian seamers had utilised the new ball better.

For most of the morning, the pair of Roach and Gabriel had failed to test the Lankan openers to any great degree. Gabriel in particular, who hadn’t bowled competitively since the tour of Bangladesh, was guilty of wavering lines and lengths.

Roach, while showing better control than his partner, was also not getting the Lankan batsmen to play the ball enough – though he would more than make up for that in the second session.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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