Port of Spain (AFP) – Shane Dowrich compiled a patient, invaluable hundred and enjoyed stubborn support from Devendra Bishoo in frustrating Sri Lanka’s bowling and lifting the West Indies to 350 for seven at tea on Thursday.
In the face of mounting criticism over his place in the team, especially after vulnerability to short-pitched bowling was exposed in the two-match series in New Zealand six months earlier, Dowrich responded in the best possible manner with a determined effort on the second day of the first of three Tests.
He reached his second Test century off the final ball of the session at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, turning a delivery from Rangana Herath through square-leg to reach the landmark off the 282nd delivery he faced and after more than five hours in the middle.
There were ten fours to embellish an innings that will nevertheless be remembered more for its doggedness than the extravagance which he curtailed to a considerable degree.
Dowrich’s partnership with Bishoo was worth 102 for the seventh wicket, an effort which began late on the first day and continued deep into the afternoon session of day two when the lower-order player eventually fell for a vital innings of 40.
Senior seamer Suranga Lakmal took a deserved second wicket of the innings via a catch at gully by Roshen Silva as Bishoo flashed once too often at the faster bowlers to again fall short of a maiden Test half-century.
With concerns over the fitness of Lakmal and champion left-arm spinner Herath clearly hampering his ability to engage his bowling resources as effectively as he wanted to, Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal employed his other options without success.
Seamers Lahiru Gamage and Lahiru Kumara, who picked up three wickets and was by far the best of the bowlers on day one, together with off-spinner Dilruwan Perera failed to make any real impact on the overnight pair as batting conditions improved through the day.
– Rain delays –
Rain had limited play to just 43 minutes in the morning session during which time Dowrich and Bishoo added 22 runs without ever looking to be in any real discomfort. A brighter afternoon appeared to work in favour of the batsmen as the bowlers failed to present any effective challenge to the pair.
As is his tendency, Bishoo occasionally flirted with danger in attempting to take on the occasional short-pitched deliveries, more than once getting a top-edge that fell clear of the desperate fielders.
When his luck eventually ran out, new batsman Kemar Roach played with typical stoicism in support of Dowrich’s quest for a hundred.
Nerves were getting the better of the wicketkeeper-batsman in the final over before tea, though, when a sweep was top-edged out of the reach of the close fielders. It brought him two runs to take him to 99 and it was with a mixture of relief and celebration that he greeted the single that took him to the landmark.
He resumes in the final session of the day in partnership with Roach and the West Indies still thinking of getting close to a total of 400.
Lakmal, the lone wicket-taker for the day, has been by some distance the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers on day two with Herath still looking a bit short of work despite bowling 27 overs.