KINGSTON, Jamaica – Windies “A” Team head coach Graeme West said his players needed to revisit the blueprint for winning the first “Test” against Sri Lanka “A” to find the formula for winning the final match of their series, starting tomorrow under the lights at Sabina Park.
The three-match series is level 1-1, after Windies “A” won the first “Test” by an innings and 13 runs at the Trelawny Multiplex on the Jamaica north coast two Saturdays ago, and Sri Lanka “A” recovered to win the second “Test” by 280 at the same venue a week later.
West said his side had done a number of things correctly in the first “Test”, but they had failed to maintain the good habits in the second match, leading to their downfall, and now faces a major challenge to win the final game to achieve their goal of a series victory over competitive opponents on home soil.
“First, the bowlers need to continue doing what they have been doing,” he told CWI Media. “The pace bowlers have been aggressive, but they have also maintained good lines and lengths, and the spinners have been probing and when the conditions have allowed, they have been able to attack, so we need a lot more of the same there.
“In the field, we need to be a little bit sharper with our close catching. In front and behind the wicket, we missed a number of half chances, but they do make a difference. But it’s the batting, we need to go back to the first game, where he had a hundred, half-centuries and hundred partnerships, and players make solid contributions down the order.
“The first innings is going to be crucial for us to be able to set up the game, whether we bat first or second, and we need to make 300 runs-plus in the first innings to get ourselves into a good position in the game. I have now been involved in eight games with Sri Lanka “A” in four-day matches and the two in which we have been successful are the two in which we made more than 300 in an innings, so that’s a good indication of what we need to do.”
On the failure in the second “Test”, West said: “To their credit, the bowlers performed pretty well in line with the first game, but the Sri Lankan batsmen applied themselves a little bit more. We had to work harder for our wickets, but our batting unit let the side down in both innings, particularly the first innings.
“In four-day matches, the first innings is always important and having dismissed Sri Lanka “A” for under 300 on a reasonably good pitch, we batted way below where we needed to be and put ourselves under a lot of pressure, and it was downhill from there.
“It was a little unusual the way we batted. We lost many of our wickets in the first innings playing defensively and we lost most of our wickets in the second innings playing attacking shots, so clearly we failed to find the right balance of a good defence and making good decisions about when to take on the bowling, particularly Malinda Pushpakumara.
Our method of trying to play Pushpakumara is something we had to go back and revisit because he dominated pretty much every time he came on to bowl. If we are going to be competitive and eventually successful in the third game, this is an area with which we will have to handle.”
On what has excited him most about his side’s performance, West said: “It was exciting to see Oshane Thomas bowl in only his second first-class match. He bowled with pace, but given his lack of experience, he dealt very well with the conditions and the batsmen against whom he played.
“Also, Oshane’s ability to bowl quite a long spell in the second innings was a huge credit to him. With the right support, he is someone that could really progress.
“Rahkeem Cornwall is getting better with every game that he plays. He’s coming off a period of shorter form matches and he is beginning once again to develop that ability to bowl long spells, sustain pressure and take wickets at the same time.
“Sunil Ambris has also handled himself very well with the bat in both matches. He has looked accomplished and a level above most of the batting that has been on display in the games.”