Chanders leads Windies fightback

A defiant West Indies team played to 271/6 at stumps on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka, as the second string XI fought back from a position of 113/5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (69 not out) and debutant Denesh Ramdin (56) struck half-centuries in the effort.

Posing three Test debutants (Ramdin, Morton, Marshall) to Sri Lanka’s one (Wijekoon), the tourists were certainly the lesser experienced participant. Thus, the closing position proved far better than the expectations of most.

Xavier Marshall hit two boundaries and raced to a run-a-ball 10, but was trapped in front by seamer Chaminda Vaas in the third over of the day. Runako Morton joined Sylvester Joseph and the two continued the positive play in a stand of 58 for the second wicket.

Gayan Wijekoon then struck for the first time in Tests, pinning Joseph LBW for 28. Some 23 runs later, Morton (43) was also dismissed to stimulate a miniature collapse. The Nevisian batsman dragged on to Muralitharan, attempting an ill-advised drive.

After lunch, Malinga removed Narsingh Deonarine (12) to a disappointing swipe outside the offstump. Dwayne Smith, next in, was out 2 balls after in tragically typical fashion. Smashing the first ball to the boundary, he looked promising, then played around Malinga’s next offering to be adjudged LBW.

His team in crisis, Ramdin made his first stride to the crease in senior internationals. Breaking through a fairly difficult start, the wicket-keeper batsman was calm and fluent with boundaries to both sides of the wicket and timing evident. Battling the spinners, Ramdin produced classic footwork and poise to build his way to a half-century on debut. Ultimately he perished to an inside onto his stumps against Wijekoon, ending a partnership of 79 with his captain.

Chanderpaul soldiered on, however, finding a new partner in allrounder Omari Banks. The two batsmen exemplified the defiance and resilience needed in West Indies cricket for years to the day, defending stoutly to the close.

Banks was unbeaten on 30 off 96 balls, supporting his captain beautifully, who faced 147 balls on the day. Champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan bowled 29 overs on his return to Test cricket, but only returned one wicket.

Score Summary

West Indies 1st innings 271/6 (82 overs)
S Chanderpaul 69*, D Ramdin 56, RS Morton 43, OAC Banks 30*
G Wijekoon 2/49, SL Malinga 2/67

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