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Windies top order flop


MIKE KING, [email protected]

Windies top order flop

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Unless Devon Smith and Kieran Powell deliver something special in the second innings of the historic day/night Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka at Kensington Oval, this could be the end of the road for both players.

Smith, who has been in and out of the side since making his debut in 2003, was gone in the first over, edging to second slip for just two.

Powell has gone 21 Tests without a hundred and it is hard to understand why the Nevisian left-hander is still in the team, with his limited footwork often being exposed by the moving ball. His hesitant prod at Lahiru Kumara was grabbed low down at second slip by Kusal Mendis, a brilliant sprawling two-handed swoop in front of first slip.

West Indies won the toss but that is all they got right on the opening day of the crucial third and final Test.

Faced with a greenish pitch and cool conditions against a team weakened by the absence of their substantive captain Dinesh Chandimal, West Indies strangely opted to bat and were 88 for five in 33.3 overs when the rains doused the Oval for the second time in the first ever day/night Test in the Caribbean.

There was no resumption until after 9 p.m. and at Press time, West Indies were 101 for five.

Skipper Jason Holder and in-form wicketkeeper batsman Shane Dowrich were once again leading another fightback, halting the rot after the West Indies slipped to 53 for five.

Dowrich, fresh from a hundred in the opening Test at the Queen’s Park Oval and a half-century in St Lucia, was 36 with Holder, who was prepared to counter-attack on 18 with three fours.

The 31-year-old fast bowler Suranga Lakmal, leading the side for the first time and by example, ripped out both openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Smith in the first two overs and in the space of half hour, they had slid to 21 for three.

Holder got it wrong by not bowling in helpful conditions, but the truth is, this brittle West Indies side was exposed by quality seam bowling from Lakmal and Kumara.

Brathwaite, still searching for his first Test ton in Barbados, fended a lifting ball and was caught low down at cover point by Gunathilaka.

When the first rain break came, West Indies had limped to 12 for three after 7.3 overs, pegged back by some tight bowling and excellent fielding.

That rain break lasted 51 minutes. Hope, who averages just 21 at the ground, found the going tough, scoring just three runs from his first 30 balls.

Roston Chase looked solid  before he had his middle stump uprooted, driving loosely at medium-pacer Rasun Rajitha operating from the Joel Garner end. That made it 24 for four.

At the break which was extended by half-hour, West Indies were 46 for four.

Hope’s agonising vigil ended when he snicked Rajitha for Mendis to snatch another fine, low catch at second slip. Hope faced 49 balls for his 11.

Sri Lanka made two changes. The visitors replaced Chandimal with the left-handed Danushka Gunathilaka while Akila Dananjaya was dropped for allrounder Dilruwan Perera.

West Indies, ahead 1-0 in the series, were unchanged meaning that Barbadian fast bowler, Miguel Cummins, who has taken just three tail-end wickets in this series, has been given another chance.

Sixth ranked Sri Lanka are seeking to become the first team from the Asian sub-continent to win at Kensington Oval. (MK)

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