Nkrumah Bonner’s maiden first Test century, finishing with a steady unbeaten knock of 113, helped the resilient West Indies earn a share of the spoils from the 1st Test against Sri Lanka at Antigua’s Sir Vivian Richards Stadium yesterday (25 March).
Yet the Windies should have continued their recent run of victories after whittling out the tourists for just 169. They responded with a total of 271, the innings single-handedly saved by Antigua’s tail-ender Rakheem Cornwell. He was the only player to hit a half-century and notched a swashbuckling 61 runs.
Admittedly runs were always going to be easier to attain than wickets inside the empty purpose-built venue, with Sri Lanka firing on all cyclinders to amass 476 all out.
Barbados all rounder Jason Holder, replaced as Test skipper by compatriot Kraigg Brathwaite, had ripped through the tourists’ first innings to finish with the most impressive figures of 5-27.
But he failed to capture a wicket in the second innings as Lahiru Thirimanne (76), Oshada Fernando (91), Pathum Nissanka (103) and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella (96) all dominated proceedings, with Cornwall and Kemar Roach (Barbados) grabbing three wickets a-piece.
On the final day the hosts started at 34-1 with a minimum of 100 overs to be played and seeking a further 341 runs. Yet miraculously the Windies last month were chasing a 395-run total when they stunned Bangladesh in Chattogram last month.
Bearing in mind that remarkable result, Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne set out a defensive field with his bowlers cautious not to concede runs rather than aim to skittle out the Windies.
Bonner was played a paramount role in his 66-run second wicket partnership with Brathwaite, and then added a 105 runs in 36 overs with Kyle Mayers. The Barbados batsman was removed for 52, his maiden Test half-century, in the first over after tea after being caught by Thirimanne off Lasith Embuldeniya.
With the score at 178-3 after 75.4 overs, there was only going to one result unless the Windies experienced a batting collapse under the Caribbean sun.
Bonner had survived an appeal for caught behind when stuck on 50, after the review indicated that the ball from Embuldeniya had slipped past the edge of his bat. And Bonner then witnessed a brief stint at the crease from fellow Jamaican and vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood, who scored just four before being sent back to the pavilion with the hosts at 204-4.
Holder, who had a point to prove after losing the captaincy and failing with the ball in the second innings, helped steady the ship with a 48-ball knock of 18 alongside Bonner as stumps were drawn early at 236-4.
The Windies will be raring to go to avenge this draw when Braithwaite leads the team in the 2nd Test on Monday (29 March) at the same stadium.
WEST INDIES v SRI LANKA (all matches in Antigua)
3 March | 1st T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 4 wickets
Sri Lanka 131-9 (20 overs), WI 134-6 (13.1 overs)
5 March | 2nd T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
Sri Lanka beat WI by 43 runs
Sri Lanka 160-6 (20 overs), WI 117 all out (18.4 overs)
7 March | 3rd T20I (Coolidge Cricket Ground)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets
Sri Lanka 131-4 (20 overs), WI 134-7 (19 overs)
10 March | 1st ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets
Sri Lanka 232 all out (49 overs), WI 236-2 (47 overs)
12 March | 2nd ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets
Sri Lanka 273-8 (50 overs), WI 274-5 (49.4 overs)
14 March | 3rd ODI (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets
Sri Lanka 274-6 (50 overs), WI 276-5 (48.3 overs)
21-25 March | 1st Test Match (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
WI drew with Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 169 all out (69.4 overs) & 476 all out (149.5 overs)
WI 271 all out (103 overs) & WI 236-4 (100 overs)
29 March-2 April | 2nd Test Match (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium)
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