West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman Shane Dowrich celebrating after completing his century. (Picture courtesy CWI Media/Randy of Brooks Latouche Photography)
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PORT OF SPAIN – West Indies rattled Sri Lanka with three quick wickets in a dramatic final hour to take firm control of the opening Test after Shane Dowrich’s second Test hundred had earlier given them the advantage on a rain-hit second day of the contest at Queen’s Park Oval.
Declaring their innings on 414 for eight, just under an hour prior to the rescheduled close with Dowrich left unbeaten on 125, West Indies wrecked the visitors’ top order to leave them against the ropes on 31 for three from the ten overs possible.
Kusal Perera perished off just the second legitimate delivery of the innings from seamer Kemar Roach, carving a wide, loose delivery to Roston Chase at point, to fall without scoring to the first ball he faced.
His opening partner Kusal Mendis (4) fared little better, departing to a catch at third slip by captain Jason Holder after failing to negotiate a length delivery from speedster Shannon Gabriel in the fourth over.
Controversy surrounded the fall of Sri Lanka’s third wicket, however. Angelo Mathews, dropped first ball by Holder off Gabriel, survived a pace barrage to make 11 before edging an out-swinger from Holder to Chase at third slip.
Replays showed Holder appearing to have over-stepped but with none of the images conclusive, the dismissal was upheld by umpires.
For all the drama created by the Windies pacers late on, it was the hundred by Dowrich which took the spotlight.
Resuming the morning on 46, the right-hander hardly put a foot wrong as he reached three figures with the last ball before tea in an extended post-lunch session.
All told, Dowrich faced 325 deliveries in seven hours and 37 minutes at the crease, striking 12 fours, in a knock marked by superb powers of concentration.
More significantly, he put on a record 102 for the seventh wicket with overnight partner Devendra Bishoo who made 40, before adding a further 75 for the eighth wicket with Roach who scored 39.
The two partnerships crushed Sri Lanka’s spirit and enabled West Indies to clinically build on their position of 246 for six at the start.
Only about 40 minutes’ play was possible in the first session, as rain forced a near 50-minute delay at the start and then returned half-hour before the scheduled lunch interval.
In the time possible, however, Dowrich brought up his half-century off the third ball of the morning when he pulled speedster Suranga Lakmal to the midwicket boundary.
He was getting into his stride on 57 when the weather returned to end the session with the Windies on 268 without further loss.
On resumption, Dowrich and Bishoo put their heads down to frustrate Sri Lanka in a productive stand, which took West Indies comfortably past 300.
Bishoo had faced 160 balls in just over three and a quarter hours and struck five fours when his gritty innings ended as he slashed at one, a wide one from Lakmal, and was taken at gully by Roshen Silva, at 339 for seven.
Dowrich never lost focus, however, moving into the 90s with a swept four off off-spinner Dilruwan Perera but then remained stuck there for 42 balls.
Just when it appeared he would remain on 99 at tea, he turned the last ball before the interval from left-arm spinner Rangana Herath through square for a single to reach three figures, becoming the first Windies keeper to score a century against the Asian side.
Afterwards, Roach flexed his muscle, hammering six fours and the only six of the innings, as West Indies passed 400 runs in the final session to pile the pressure on Sri Lanka. (CMC)