It used to be a welcome offered to almost every opening batsman touring the Caribbean. A hard new ball buzzing past his head,reminding him of the dangerous campaign hes set out on by agreeing to face up to the West Indian pace barrage,followed by raucous cheers of approval from the thousands assembled at vantage points around the stadium. Related: West Indies at wrong end of FTP,says Gibson
Over the last two decades or so,the men from the Caribbean have turned significantly more hospitable in their manner of greeting opposition batsmen. Kemar Roach,however,has displayed the ability,on occasion,to get batsmen to fear for their well-being by dishing out a mean bouncer. Ask Ricky Ponting. And he ensured that the Sunday crowd at the Queens Park Oval were treated to some déjà vu. Upul Tharanga for sure wasnt ready for it. The curious case of Patrick Patterson: Gone AWOL
To his credit,the Sri Lankan opener did not flinch and moved out of harms way. That the delivery was called a wide didnt matter to either of the concerned parties. Not Tharanga,not Roach,and certainly not the Trinidad crowd. The raucous ovation reserved for Roach was straight out of the history books of West Indian cricket.
Buoyed by his fellow Bajans explosive beginning,Jason Holder started in similar fashion from the other end,banging the ball into the Queens Park Oval wicket and extracting bounce from it. The Lankans,desperate for a win,had been forced to start on the back foot,quite literally.
And it was the young beanpole pacer who made the most of it by striking the first blow. He set up Tharanga with a rising length delivery that knocked the bat out of the left-handers hands. Having pushed the opener back,he threw in the sucker punch,a wide and full delivery that Tharanga duly drove into the hands of Darren Bravo at cover.
Then Roach lifted the roof off the Oval. So well-directed was Roachs snorter that Mahela Jayawardene had nowhere to go. Rather than wear it on the helmet,the veteran attempted to pull. But the ball was onto him too quick,took his top edge,and ricocheted off his visor before popping into points hands. In his very next over,Roach knocked back Dinesh Chandimals stumps.
That the match only lasted 19 overs with Sri Lanka 60/3 before heavy rain brought a premature end to the days play might have been a dampener. But those who saw Roach and Holder pummel the Sri Lankan top-order with their bullying spells had already had their moneys worth. There was no sign of anguish in the stands around Queens Park Oval. The music and the dancing continued unhindered,almost oblivious to the puddles of water forming around the outfield.
If the rain continues on Monday and prevents play from resuming,West Indies will qualify for the final,which would leave Sri Lanka and India fighting it out for the second spot when they clash on Tuesday. A Sri Lankan win will make life uneasy for India,who will then have to either win by a bonus point or by a substantial margin when they face their neighbours on Tuesday.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 60/3 in 19 overs (Kumar Sangakkara not out11,Lahiru Thirimanne not out 13;
Kemar Roach 2/19,Jason Holder 1/20) vs West Indies