Jamaica Observer / West Indies ‘A’ Captain Kieran Powell says the 161-run ninth-wicket partnership between Shane Dowrich and Jomel Warrican was decisive in his team claiming a one-nil lead in the three-match “Test” series against England Lions. The pair rescued the hosts from 114-8 and lifted them to a score of 279 on a dry, spinner-friendly pitch. That stand helped to give West Indies ‘A’ a first-innings lead of 27 runs, and set the platform for a streaky two-wicket win in the opening unofficial four-day Test at Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium.
The 26-year-old wicketkeeper Dowrich made a classy 119 for his fifth first-class century. Warrican, 25, batting at number 10, was as effective in striking a career-best 71 not out.
“That’s what it takes on these types of pitches; one big partnership could change the complexion of the game as we saw. Warrican and Dowrich really played well, with Dowrich getting a century — the only player to get a century in the match,” Powell, 27, said in a post-match interview on Wednesday.
The left-arm finger spinner Warrican also starred with the ball, taking 7-33 in the Englishmen’s second-innings score of 132, to end with match figures of 8-87. Dowrich was tidy behind the stumps on a challenging surface and completed four catches. West Indies ‘A’ 25-year-old off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall claimed 8-123 in the match, and also hit the winning runs.
Despite their performances, West Indies ‘A’ narrowly survived the Lions’ comeback, skidding horribly from 80-3 to 108-8 while chasing 106 runs. The touring party’s left-arm finger spinner Jack Leach wreaked havoc with five wickets in the innings.
The A team skipper, who top-scored with 30 in the second innings, said the 31-run cameo in partnership with fellow left-hand opener John Campbell was vital in providing the positive start to the run-chase on Tuesday’s penultimate day.
“I think those 30 runs proved to be invaluable [because] we could have seen if we had gone out and had a negative mindset and been 10 without loss, the game would have had a different complexion, so I think it worked out overall for the team,” he insisted.
Leach, 26, was pleased with the team effort on the final morning that left West Indies limping to victory shortly before lunch.
“We just fell short… we kept believing and it wasn’t quite enough, but we gave it everything, so we are pretty pleased with our efforts. It was a very difficult pitch to bat on, so we knew we had a chance, and with some balls skidding on and some balls spinning, it was always going to be tough,” said the English bowler who ended with 8-110 in the match.
Andy Flower, the Lions’ coach, rued that West Indies ‘A’ managed a first-innings lead after appearing down and out at 114-8.
“ (I am) obviously disappointed [West Indies recovered], but they played very well. That partnership was the crucial partnership in the game. I think outstanding sides would have probably nailed it there and then at 114-8, and we didn’t do that,” the great former Zimbabwe batsman reasoned.
He credited his batsmen, however, for keeping the West Indians at bay for the first part of their second innings, before the dismissal of top-scorer Haseeb Hameed (39) triggered a collapse in which seven wickets fell for 57 runs.
“I think there was always a lot in the pitch, I think we batted extremely well to that point. I think Haseeb played the spin very skilfully… to allow us to get to 75-2, but this was very much like playing cricket in the [Asian] subcontinent where wickets could fall in clusters,” Flower said.
The second four-day ‘Test’is scheduled for Sabina Park, starting Sunday.
The final match is set to be a day/night encounter at Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua from February 26 to March 1. All three matches in the 50-over series will be played at Coolidge Cricket Ground also in Antigua.