West Indies A 130 for 6 (Kulasekara 5-47) v Sri Lanka A
There are just two "Tests" in which West Indies and Sri Lanka hopefuls can make an impression on their respective selectors. The West Indians did not have a good first showing. Yesterday at Guaracara Park, the Caribbean batsmen turned up but really didn't play in decent November conditions. The result was 130 for 6 on day one of the first four-day "Test".
Even with the preparation moisture in the surface, the experienced West Indies A line-up had no genuine excuse for their weak showing. Coach David Williams and captain Sylvester Joseph had enough confidence in the strip to bat first when play was finally possible after lunch. The entire first session had been lost because of soggy sections in the bowler's run-up at the southern end.
And while there was not a great deal of sideways movement for the Sri Lankan seamers, Nuwan Kulasekara bowled a disciplined off-stump line and kept the ball up to the vulnerable West Indians. The result was five wickets for him. Four of those came in his decisive first spell of eight overs with the new ball when he took 4 for 15 runs. He feasted on the plethora of left-handers.
Running the ball across them, he got opener Sewnarine Chattergoon to snick to Jeevan Mendis at third slip before he had scored; had Wavell Hinds edging to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva for another duck; and induced a tentative Ryan Hinds to give a catch to captain Tilan Samaraweera at first slip. Kulasekara also trapped Joseph lbw as he shouldered arms to one that came back at him.
The West Indians desperately needed someone to drop anchor. And for most of the post-lunch session, Devon Smith seemed to be that man. For just about two hours and 80 balls, he was patient and responsible in getting to 21. But in the closing overs before tea, he lost the plot, drove loosely at left-arm seamer Ruchira Perera and was bowled.
Narsingh Deonarine, the fifth left-hander in the top six, went to tea with wicketkeeper Patrick Browne and the total on 55 for 5. The scores of missing fans at the Park were spared more agitated discussions among themselves about the state of the game in the region. Those who came in after work, though, saw some more encouraging stuff.
Recognising the crisis their side was in, Deonarine and Browne set about sensibly starting a recovery. Aggressive counterattack was not necessary, just calm occupation. And that is what the left-hand right-hand pair managed to do in the final session - accumulate runs where available without taking unnecessary risks.
Kulasekara was not as effective against them in that determined mood. Samaraweera tried five bowlers against them, including the spin pair of Sajeewa Weerakoon and Kaushal Lokuarachchi in tandem. Left-armer Weerakoon almost broke through when Deonarine had reached 28 and turned him through the hands of the forward short-leg fielder. It was a vital escape for Deonarine and Windies A.
Together with Browne, he eventually added 64 for the sixth wicket in just under two hours. It was not eye-catching stuff, although both batsmen allowed themselves a few liberties as their stand grew. But Kulasekara was determined that they would not steal his thunder. Re-introduced for one final spell, he got Browne to play across a delivery which trapped him lbw. It was a misjudgment which tipped the balance more firmly in Sri Lanka A's favour.