Fighting draw by WI

With their backs firmly against the wall, no praise can be too high for the fighting second innings batting display, which, along with rain, helped West Indies to an unlikely draw in the second Test against India in Jamaica.

It was a big statement coming from a team soundly beaten by an innings and 92 runs with a day to spare in the first match at the Sir Vivian Richards ground in Antigua, and then outplayed for all but the last day at Sabina Park.

Dismissed for 196 in the first innings to which India replied with 500 for nine declared, left West Indies needing to survive the last two days.

And when they plunged to 48 for four by the close of a badly rain-hit fourth day in which only 15.5 overs were bowled, another heavy defeat loomed.

More rain appeared to be the only saviour but as it turned out, positive batting by Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich and captain Jason Holder led to a total of 388 for six off 104 overs.

Roston Chase showed his class in the second Test.
Roston Chase showed his class in the second Test.

Chase, a tall all-rounder in only his second Test, was the star. He made an unbeaten 137 and along with figures of five for 121 as an off-spinner, became the first West Indian in 50 years to achieve the special feat of scoring a century and taking five wickets in an innings in the same Test.

That the previous double by a West Indian was recorded by the game’s greatest ever all-rounder and fellow Barbadian Sir Garfield Sobers was most significant.

And Chase joined that illustrious company just six days after Sobers celebrated his 80th birthday.

Chase also became only the fourth West Indian after Denis Atkinson, O’Neil “Collie” Smith and Sobers (twice) to take a five-wicket haul and score a century in the same Test match.

Sobers’ first achievement was in April 1962 against India at Sabina Park when he made 104 and 50 and took five for 63 in the second innings as West Indies won by 123 runs. Scores were: West Indies 253 and 283. India 178 and 235.

Then in August 1966, as captain, Sobers hit 174 and took five for 41 in the first innings against England at Headingley, Leeds, spurring West Indies to victory by an innings and 55 runs.

West Indies scored 500 for nine declared and bowled England out for 240 and 205.

Seven Barbadians played in that match – Sobers, Conrad Hunte, Peter Lashley, Seymour Nurse, who made 137, David Holford, Charlie Griffith and Wes Hall. The other members of the team were the Guyanese trio of Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher and Lance Gibbs and Jackie Hendriks of Jamaica.

The fact that Chase, Dowrich and Holder are three of five Barbadians who played in the Sabina Park Test – the others being opener Kraigg Brathwaite and fast bowler Miguel Cummins on debut – has not been lost by those who tend to be parochial when it comes to discussing the make-up of West Indies teams and the impact of Bajans.

But statistics, which have been highlighted in relation to the batting of Blackwood, Chase, Dowrich and Holder on Wednesday, are worth repeating.

Noting that all four are aged 24, with scores of 63, 137 not out, 74 and 64 not out, they became only the fifth set of batsmen occupying numbers five, six, seven and eight, to make 50-plus scores in the same Test innings.

The batting display on the last day was extremely heart-warming. Partnerships were vital. Blackwood, a Jamaican who failed to score in the first Test, played attacking strokes like he did in his first innings top-score of 62 off the same number of balls including seven fours and four sixes.

In the second innings, he faced 54 balls, counted nine fours and two sixes and added 93 for the fifth wicket with Chase.

The confidence, excellent footwork, timing and playing balls on merit shown by Chase will be remembered for a long time. All told, he batted for 352 minutes, faced 269 balls and struck 15 fours and one six.    

Dowrich kept his company for 143 minutes, received 114 balls and counted six fours and one six in a stand of 144.

And after Dowrich was unfortunately given out leg before wicket with the ball hitting the inside edge of the bat off leg-spinner Amit Mishra, Holder sustained the positive batting as he occupied the crease for 130 minutes, faced 99 balls and hit eight fours and one six while featuring in a partnership of 103.

One has to admire the modesty in which Chase reacted to his feat.

“It’s a great match for me. I’m just looking to move on from here, stay humble and take it Test match by Test match,” he said.

“It is a great confidence booster for me to know that I can actually perform at this level. I know people will be expecting a lot from me, so I will just go out there and play it Test match by Test match and keep looking to improve.”

Also noteworthy were the comments from Holder.

“Roston is one of many things. He is a character. People don’t know Roston off the field but he is a fighter. I played all my cricket throughout my entire life with Roston – junior cricket, Under-13, 15, 17, 19, West Indies A and now West Indies senior team. I have honestly enjoyed playing with Roston because, the character he is, and you know the way he plays cricket,” Holder said.

“He is a very good fellow, he may come across lackadaisical and lazy and smooth but he is a wonderful individual. It’s nothing new to me, to see this kind of performance from Roston, because I know what he can offer, and credit to the selectors for having the faith in him and giving him the opportunity. Credit must also go to Roston for showing why he should be playing Test cricket.”

West Indies are really hungry for success in Tests and the character displayed by the batsmen on the last day was very heart-warming.

In listening to former West Indies captain and batting star Sir Vivian Richards who is covering the series as a television commentator, there is no doubt that he believes the current side can go from strength to strength.

Never one to hide his emotions, Richards was extremely exuberant when Chase reached his century. It was a wonderful picture.  

There is still, however, a lot of work for West Indies to do but with their confidence now unquestionably boosted, the last two Tests in St. Lucia and Trinidad should create much more interest.

Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website ( Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights.

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