West Indies’ newly-appointed skipper Kraigg Brathwaite expressed that he was pleased that his side salvaged a draw, and claimed that how they bounced back post-Tea on Day 4 spoke volumes of the team’s spirit. The Windies batted 100 overs in the fourth innings to save the first Test in Antigua.
The first Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka in Antigua was a riveting, see-saw battle as after multiple shifts in momentum, the game ended in a draw, with the Windies batting out the final day to save the Test. Having taken a 102-run lead in the first innings, the hosts were in firm control of the Test at one stage, but a remarkable second-innings batting performance from the visitors saw the tide turn. Sri Lanka posting 476 in their second innings meant that the Windies needed to bat out no less than 100 overs to secure a draw - with the target of 375 being out of reach - but the hosts did it with elan, thanks to an outstanding effort from the duo of Kyle Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner.
Speaking post the game, Kraigg Brathwaite, for whom the Antigua Test was his first as a full-time skipper, asserted that his side’s performance in the first Test embodied the spirit of the side. Brathwaite pointed out that the late surge with the ball on Day 4, where the Windies removed the last 5 Lankan wickets for 38 runs, summed up the team’s never-give-up attitude.
"I was confident for the team to fight today and it's good to come out of it with a draw. I'm very happy," Brathwaite said, reported Cricbuzz.
"Yesterday evening really summed it up for me. We had a tough time in the field but after tea, Kemar Roach led the way with a positive attitude and we got a breakthrough. That summed it up for me, despite all the overs we had in the field, we still had an attitude that we wanted to do it for the West Indies and I was quite pleased with that. I was happy with the attitude we showed today and the discipline, he played a remarkable innings but I know what he's capable of.
"We're looking for wins, to be honest. Coming into the last day needing over 300 runs, I'm happy we came out with a draw. I thought Kemar and Jason led the way with their discipline in terms of their lines and length. In the second innings we missed a few chances and that will happen. As a unit and we just have to keep growing. We won't always get wins but to come out of this day with a draw shows the fight this team has."
That West Indies walked away with a draw was largely down to one man - Nkrumah Bonner. Playing just his third Test match, the seasoned veteran blunted the Lankan attack with sheer resilience and eventually brought up a well-deserved ton in the final hour of the game to shield his side from defeat. The 32-year-old expressed that words cannot do justice to the elation he experienced after bringing up his ton.
"It is very emotional for me. I don't think it's a feeling that I can explain. It's something that someone needs to experience it to understand that feeling. It's a really, really special feeling. When I was on 99, Jason came down and said stay calm and stick to your process and stick to your gameplan and it'll happen,” Bonner said.
Early days, but in his thus-far-short Test career, Bonner has shown remarkable consistency, passing the 80-run mark in an astonishing 50% of his knocks. The seasoned campaigner credited his batting coach for his success and insisted that the success he is enjoying is a direct consequence of the hard-work he’s put in.
"There's no secret to my consistency. I have to thank the batting coach because he did a lot of work with me and I am happy to see that pay off. The second Test is a crucial one for us. We've managed to draw this and, obviously, there are a few areas we need to top up on. Hopefully, we can do that in the next three days and be ready as best as we can."