Shane Dowrich came to the rescue of the home team yet again after the Windies were reduced to 24/4 within fifteen overs on a rain-hit day one of the final Test. The wicket-keeper batsman and captain Jason Holder stitched together an unbeaten partnership of 79* before the umpires called stumps with only 46.3 overs possible.
Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich saw the Windies through the first session, which lasted for 21 overs, after four wickets fell for less than 30 runs. Shai Hope kept one end going, playing 23 balls when Dowrich joined him in the 14 over of the day.
Dowrich started positively, getting two early boundaries to finish the first session at 13* off 20. At the start of the second session, Hope was dismissed off Rajitha, Kusal Mendis taking a good low catch in the slips.
Dowrich looked shaky after Hope’s dismissal, he got two streaky boundaries, one falling wide of third slip. At the other end Holder scored two confident fours, his first one a big pull off the back-foot against his counterpart Suranga Lakmal, the other a confident on-drive.
Again, rain interrupted play leaving only 12.3 overs possible in the second session of play before the Windies came out to bat at 86/5 after a two hour long wait.
The third session lasted just a little more than the second session, with the Sri iLankans able to bowl 13 overs, but their bowling looked tired. The pair of Holder and Dowrich imposed themselves in the final session of play, Dowrich especially was able to score well off Lahiru Kumara, who is the visitors’ most impressive bowler this series.
They brought up the Windies 100 six overs after the break, Dowrich quickly followed that up with his seventh half-century in Tests, getting there in 86 balls. His fifty was the first instance of a Windies wicket-keeper scoring a half-century in a day-night Test match.
This was his third fifty plus score this series, and just like his first two it came at a time when the Windies most needed it. In the first Test, which the home team won, his first innings score of 125* took them from 134/4 all the way to 414/8.
In the second Test, he walked in at 163/4 at the dismissal of Devon Smith, the Windies’ highest scorer in that innings, and ended up scoring an important 55 of 98 balls.
Just like in previous Tests, the Sri Lankan pacers were able to put pressure on the Windies early in the innings. Stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal struck in the first over of the match, removing Devon Smith for two runs. The left-hander poked at a length ball outside off edging straight to third slip.
Lakmal bagged another wicket in his third over, this time he got Brathwaite squared up and standing on his crease. The opener was surprised by the extra bounce off the pitch, the pink ball took the top edge and Danushka Gunathilaka, Chandimal’s replacement in this Test, took a good low diving catch at point.
Five balls later, the Windies lost their third wicket. Kieran Powell got a start in the first innings of previous Tests, but he lasted only 10 balls here before being caught at slips. It was a full-length delivery from Lahiru Kumara, angled across and Powell poked at it tentatively from the crease.
In the seventh over, rain interrupted for the first time of the day taking fifty minutes off the day’s play. For a brief period after the break, the Windies batsmen looked settled.
It didn’t last for long after Rajitha was introduced into the attack. In his first over, he got Roston Chase to play one on to his own stumps. As in the second innings of the last Test, his stumps went for a cartwheel.
Dowrich and Holder then scored 79 together, taking the Windies to 132/5 where they will start at the beginning of Day two.