Jason Holder reserved special praise for the West Indies lower-order batsmen after his side beat Sri Lanka by 226 runs in the first of three Tests in Port of Spain.
West Indies scored 414-8 and 223-7, out of which the last five wickets contributed 323 in total — almost 51% of the runs. Sri Lanka were first dismissed for 185 and then 226 to go down tamely on the final day.
“Our lower order has been one of the most consistent lower orders in world cricket for the last two or three years,” said Holder, though numbers suggest he is slightly off the mark.
Since January 2016, the West Indies’ have played 19 games where the last five wickets have contributed 3223 runs, averaging 20.79. That’s an excellent performance, but only seventh-best among the Test-playing nations. India are right on top, with 4338 runs from 26 Tests at an average of 29.51.
That said, the West Indies’ recovery from 147-5 to get to 414-8 before declaring in the first innings was remarkable. Shane Dowrich was at the centre of it, scoring 125* from No.6, while Holder (40), Devendra Bishoo (40) and Kemar Roach (39) put in solid hands. The partnerships were worth 90, 102 and 75 respectively.
“I always back the guys to come in and put up a partnership and put up a fight,” said Holder. “It really started with the partnership that Shane and I had, and then Devendra came in and played an outstanding knock.
“Not only did he take time out of the game, he scored runs as well. It wore down the Sri Lankan bowlers and made it tough for them.”
From the West Indies point of view, it was important to start the series – and the season – on a winning note, as it came after a year when they won three Tests and lost six.
“We had a lot of time to sit back and reflect on how the last year ended,” Holder said. “To start this series the way we’ve started it is quite pleasing. Knowing that in the past we’ve lost at the start of the series and were playing catch-up cricket, it was good to come out of the gates on a winning note.”
The second Test will start in Gros Islet on June 14.