Having won two of their last five Tests and drawing the other three – as well as the fact that the Windies were playing their first five-day game of 2018 – Sri Lanka had arrived on the Caribbean shores for the three-match Test series confident of doing well.
However, a solid performance by the hosts in the first Test, headlined by Shane Dowrich’s century, a good lower-order batting performance and an all-round bowling effort, has given the Windies a 1-0 lead.
Sri Lanka, who are chasing their first Test series win in the Caribbean, will have plenty to think about after a rather disappointing show in Port of Spain.
The bowlers, with the Windies at 147/5, let the advantage slip with Jason Holder, Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach all stitching crucial stands with Dowrich to take their side to a position of strength.
The only bright spark for the Sri Lankans in the bowling department came in the form of Lahiru Kumara, who bowled with venom to pick up seven wickets over the two innings, but bar Kusal Mendis’ 102 in the second innings – Sri Lanka’s only individual score over 50 – there were no major contributions from the batsmen either.
The visitors will be forced to make at least two changes to the side in Gros Islet. Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Gamage will be flying back to Sri Lanka, and Danushka Gunathilaka and Dasun Shanaka have been named as replacements.
While Mathews is headed back due to personal reasons, Gamage fractured his finger while batting during the first Test, a release from Sri Lanka Cricket stated. The visitors, therefore, might bring in Dhananjaya de Silva, who joined the squad late after the tragic death of his father. Gamage’s departure could mean an international debut for fast bowler Asitha Fernando, while depending on the nature of the surface, Sri Lanka could also be tempted to try Akila Dananjaya.
For the Windies, this provides a golden chance to win a series against a higher-ranked team. They did many things right in the opening game. Kieran Powell was among the runs in both innings, while Dowrich was awarded Player of the Match for his century in the first. Holder also played a captain’s hand and all the bowlers – pacers and spinners – were among the wickets.
The only cause for worry for the Windies could be that their openers, Kraigg Brathwaite and Devon Smith, failed to get going. However, with the series 1-0 in their favour, the Windies will likely not tinker with the combination just yet.
West Indies: Jason Holder ©, Devendra Bishoo, Devon Smith, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Kemar Roach
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal ©, Mahela Udawatte, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Roshen Silva, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Gamage, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva