Only four overs of play were possible after lunch as the West Indies continued their fightback on day three of the first of their three-test series against hosts Sri Lanka.

After starting the day on 113-6, a strong partnership between former captain, Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers propelled the Windies to 163-6 before Mayers was deceived by off-spinner, Dhananjaya de Silva, and lobbed a catch to captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, at short cover for a top score of 45.

Holder was next to go, caught at point by Dushmantha Chameera off the bowling of Praveen Jayawickrama for 36 with the score on 175.

He tried to play a cut shot off a ball that got some extra bounce and ended up lobbing the ball in the air to Chameera, who took a good catch diving to his right.

Rakheem Cornwall then joined wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva at the crease and the two steadied the ship, bringing the score up to 224 before Cornwall went, caught by Ramesh Mendis, off the bowling of pacer Suranga Lakmal for 38.

Cornwall’s wicket fell on the last ball of the 80th over and the rest of the day’s play was washed out by rain.

The West Indies will start day four on 224-9, still 162 runs behind Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 386 with Joshua da Silva at the crease on 11 and Shannon Gabriel yet to score.

 

West Indies Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite is expecting a strong performance from the team’s pace bowlers in Sri Lanka, despite conditions on the subcontinent tending to favour spin bowlers.

The last time the regional team faced Sri Lanka away, in 2015, it was the part-time spin of Brathwaite that stole of as the batsman claimed six wickets in an innings.  The frontline pace bowlers Kemar Roach (2), Jason Holder (3), Shannon Gabriel (1) failed to have a huge impact on the series, with the exception of Jerome Taylor who claimed 6 over two games.

Although the captain admits the surface is likely to favour spinners, Brathwaite is confident the Windies quicks will have a big role to play.

We haven’t been there as yet to see the surface but there’s always a role for the fast bowlers.  Shannon Gabriel really led the way in Bangladesh in the first Test, bowling with some good pace, then Kemar Roach getting an early wicket in the morning was very crucial.  Obviously, Jason wasn’t there but is always crucial.  So, I do believe that possibly there being spin-friendly pitches, I think the pace bowlers will do well.

“I can see them getting wickets.  It’s really about building pressure but seamers are very important and obviously, Shannon will bring some aggression and I look forward to seeing the guys operating.”

Former West Indies captain has been included in the West Indies T20 World Cup squad as a replacement for injured left-arm fast bowler Obed McCoy.

As the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup draws ever closer, some observers are still in disbelief at the squad Cricket West Indies selectors have chosen to defend the title the West Indies won in 2016.

Among them is Sir Vivian Richards, a man considered by many to be the greatest batsman of all time and one of the most destructive.

Richards, who played on the West Indies teams that won the Prudential World Cup in 1975 and 1979, said he still cannot believe that former West Indies captain Jason Holder, was not among the 15-man squad named for the world cup.

Holder, who played well in the recent CPL and took 16 wickets for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL this season, was only named among the four reserve players who will travel with the team to the United Arab Emirates where the West Indies will begin the defence of their title on October 23.

The decision by the selectors doesn’t sit well with the Master Blaster.

“I felt maybe it could have been a misprint and then hearing the news as well you think you were not hearing right at that particular time,” Sir Vivian told the Antigua Observer.

“We may have our issues with Jason when he was in charge as captain of the team, but we can never doubt the individual’s ability and his talent and I just felt sad that someone with such ability couldn’t make a West Indies T20, so that suggests to me that we must be seriously blessed with talented individuals the calibre of Jason Holder.”

Despite his misgivings, Richards urged fans to get behind the team as it goes for a third world title having won the tournament in 2012 and 2016.

West Indies open their defence against England in Dubai.

 

Punjab Kings propelled themselves back into Indian Premier League play-off contention by beating bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad by five runs on Saturday.

In a low-scoring match between the IPL's bottom two sides, Jason Holder's 47 not out was not enough for the Sunrisers to claim just a second win of the season.

Aiden Markram (27) top scored for Punjab, with captain KL Rahul (21) the only other player to knock off over 20 runs.

Holder was crucial to keeping Punjab to 125-7, as he took three wickets for 19 runs from his four overs, yet Mohammed Shami took the huge wickets of David Warner and Kane Williamson in his first two overs to deal the Sunrisers a blow.

The Sunrisers were reduced to just 20 runs in the powerplay, the lowest total in their IPL history, and despite Holder's unbeaten stand, which included five sixes, they did not have enough to get over the line.

Punjab's win takes them onto eight points, level with three other teams all hunting a play-off spot.

Holder's heroics not enough

There was no doubting who the star of the show was on Saturday, with West Indies international Holder brilliant with both the bat and ball. Yet his efforts proved fruitless, with Nathan Ellis managing to keep him at bay in the final over. 

"It is a tough loss. We left a little bit too much in the back end to do. That's how the game plays. We were behind the eight ball. I just wanted to give myself a chance and strike well," said Holder.

Shami and Bishnoi strike

The Sunrisers' confidence was knocked early by Shami (2-14), as he dismissed Warner (2) and Williamson (1) to stifle the chase before it had even got started.

Ravi Bishnoi then added three wickets for just 24 runs to apply further pressure, skittling through Hyderabad's middle order.

Legendary WI fast bowler Andy Roberts is convinced the Cricket West Indies panel of selectors made a grave error by omitting all-rounder Jason Holder from the final 15-man World Cup squad.

Despite being better known for his exploits in the red-ball format, Holder’s exclusion from the first-team squad and selection as a reserve for the tournament caused shock and dismay across the Caribbean, following the announcement of the final squad next week.

In international T20 cricket to date, Holder has managed 27 matches with an average of 16.75 in 18 innings, added to that he has claimed 22 wickets.  In the Indian Premier League last season, however, he put on several strong performances during his time with Sunrisers Hyderabad and also had a strong showing against Sri Lanka in the series of practice games.  He did, however, struggled against Pakistan and has also failed to make a telling impact in the CPL.  For Roberts, however, the player's proven quality should have been enough to see him added to the starting team.

“I was shocked because he is the best cricketer we have in the region, bar none,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“I’d pick him as one of the first choices for the World Cup, what is he doing in the reserves.  It embarrassing for us to see how we could treat our best cricketer. Jason Holder is our best cricketer," he added.

Holder has been consistently ranked as the top, or second-best Test cricket all-rounder for the last couple of years but has not displayed that kind of dominance over the shorter formats.

 

 

West Indies chief of selector Roger Harper admits it was a difficult choice to relegate talented all-rounder Jason Holder to a reserve position, following the unveiling of the 15-member T20 World Cup squad on Thursday.

Many were left astonished after Holder, who has had a few standout stints in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and international T20 cricket in recent months, was only named among four reserve players.

“Leaving a player of the standard and quality of Jason out of our final 15 was a difficult decision and it provoked a lot of debate,” Harper told members of the media via an online press conference.

“When we look at the type of composition we wanted, considering the all-rounders that we had and the balance, he was unfortunate not to make it,” he added.

“It was a 15-man squad, everyone couldn’t make it, different things were taken into consideration and Jason just missed out, but with a player of his stature and quality it was a difficult decision and one we didn’t take lightly.”

In 10 matches and three series against Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, Holder totalled 90 runs, had an average of 30, and claimed 9 wickets.  He, however, struggled in the team’s most recent series against Pakistan totalling just 2 runs and 4wickets in four matches.

 

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots maintained their unbeaten start to the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with a remarkable final ball win over Barbados Royals, who suffered their fourth defeat of the tournament.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has hailed the contribution of allrounder and former captain Jason Holder as the team looks to secure its first Test series win over Pakistan in almost two decades.

Holder crafted a crucial second-innings knock of 58 and took 4 wickets as the team held on for a nail-biting one-wicket win to take the lead.

However, the top allrounder has also gained plenty of attention for his actions off the field, particularly for the mentorship shown to young fast-bowler Jayden Seales.  Seales was one of the highlights of the first match for the Windies after claiming an impressive five-wicket second innings haul.

“Obviously, Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world.  He is very crucial, and he has done a fantastic job, obviously with Jayden.  I see them having a lot of chats,” Brathwaite told members of the media via an online press conference on Thursday.

“All the guys are doing a good job, they all came together but obviously Jason is the number one all-rounder in the world so obviously he brings a lot of value.”

Brathwaite replaced Holder as captain of the team in February, following a successful tour of Bangladesh, the team has since drawn with Sri Lanka and lost to South Africa.

Nicholas Pooran has guided West Indies to a series-levelling One Day International victory despite a scare in the run chase against Australia in Bridgetown on Saturday.

Akeal Hosein (30-3) and Alzarri Joseph (39-3) were exceptional in reducing Australia to 45-6 before the tourists rallied to 187.

But the West Indies stumbled in their chase, slumping to 72-5 before Pooran (59* from 75) combined with Jason Holder (52) for a decisive 93-run sixth-wicket stand.

Player of the Match Pooran was crucially dropped by Moises Henriques off Adam Zampa on 26, before making his eighth ODI half-century.

Mitchell Starc, who finished with 26-3 from 10 overs, had dismissed Evin Lewis (1) and Darren Bravo (duck), before trapping Holder LBW but Pooran guided the hosts home.

Earlier, Australia struggled with the bat, with Hosein dismissing Henriques, stand-in captain Alex Carey and Ashton Turner in an excellent spell.

Matthew Wade (36) and Adam Zampa (36) rallied for Australia, before an excellent late cameo from second-gamer Wes Agar (41 from 36).

POLLARD HAILS 'SCRATCHY' POORAN

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said allowing Australia to reach 187 was disappointing but hailed Pooran's determination after a "scratchy" knock.

"What was good this time around was the fight by the guys, Nicholas Pooran getting that half-century and Jason Holder as well," Pollard said.

"Pooran has been looking like his old self again. He was a bit scratchy tonight but sometimes that's what you need in a game like this. You want someone to scrap and I think they both scrapped well for us to come through for a victory."

The West Indies avoided suffering back-to-back home defeats for the first time since August 2019.

Pooran's innings also took him past 1,000 ODI runs, becoming the 39th West Indian player to achieve the feat and the joint-third fastest for the side (Viv Richards – 21, Gordon Greenidge – 23, Ramnaresh Sarwan – 27).

AUSSIES STILL BULLISH AHEAD OF DECIDER

Australia are unbeaten in their past six ODI bilateral series (W4, D2) against West Indies and missed out on the opportunity to seal another victory but Carey remained bullish ahead of Monday's decider.

"Bring on game three," Carey said. "The batting group has a bit to prove to get a good score on the board for our quicks but our quicks and spinners are doing a great job."

The stand-in skipper bemoaned Australia's top-order batting, with none of the top six scoring more than 16.

"Obviously it doesn't help when you're five for not-a-lot," he said. "Wade and the bowlers did a great job to get us to a total and we were back in the game.

"We took some early wickets again and the belief was there. We created opportunities and we were in the game in the back end. Unfortunately we couldn't quite close it out and it proved we were 20 or 30 short."

Former West Indies captain Jason Holder has backed an ‘inexperienced’ batting line-up to eventually find its feet against better bowling attacks, on the back of a disappointing showing against South Africa in the opening Test match.

The start of the series against the visiting Proteas was no contest, with the regional team losing by an innings and 62 runs inside three days.  In a dreadful showing at the crease, the West Indies put up 259 in two innings and scored just 97 in the first innings.

After a string of positive performances against Bangladesh and then Sri Lanka, the outings at the crease against South Africa were more reminiscent of games last year, in New Zealand, where the Windies struggled to 385 in two innings against a fierce bowling attack and against England earlier in the year.

Holder believes the issue has to do with the team’s inexperience and the lack of cohesiveness it causes at the crease.

“It’s not every day that everyone will go out there and perform but what you would like is to have a bit more consistency and not have these massive imbalances when you get performances such as the one we had with our bat,” Holder told members of the media.

“You must also understand that we have a relatively inexperienced batting line-up.  Bonner is in about his fourth Test match, the same thing with Mayers, Joshua Da Silva, the majority of the top order is relatively inexperienced.  You only have Kraigg who has been around for a while, Powell coming back into the side…Roston coming back into the team after a little while as well,” he added.

“Guys are looking to re-engage themselves in the Test arena, some are looking to engage themselves for the very first time.  All these things add up in the grand scheme of things and we have to be a little more patient with this line-up.”

 

 

Former West Indies captain and top all-rounder Jason Holder has urged caution in the development of young fast bowler Jayden Seales.

Despite some amount of debate surrounding the selection of the inexperienced player, the performance of the 19-year-old Seales was one of the few bright sparks in a wretched series for the regional team.

The teenager, who came into the line-up with the absence of Shannon Gabriel due to injury, claimed figures of 3 for 34 and overall figures of 3 for 75.  He did not get the chance at a second innings as South Africa only needed to bat once.  Prior to his debut, Seales had only played one First-Class match. 

While admitted to being delighted by the young bowler’s potential, Holder recommends caution as a necessity in ensuring he lives up to his full potential.

“I’m very excited for Jayden.  It was special to see not just the way he bowled but also the way the team rallied around him,” Holder told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I was actually commenting on his first Test wicket and everyone was saying they really enjoyed how he got around it.  I honestly felt like I was taking my first wicket when Jayden got his wicket,” he added.

“The most impressive thing for me about Jayden's debut is the sustenance of his consistency.  He was there, thereabouts nagging.  He asked tons of questions at multiple stages of the game, which is impressive for a 19-year-old.”

The sky’s the limit for him if he can just stay fit.  I just hope that we manage him well.  When I say manage him well, we still have to understand that for Jayden that’s his second first-class game, first Test match.  The body will take a little bit of time to adjust to the workload and we have to be careful not to bowl him to the ground.  I think sometimes we get excited by a young prospect like Jayden and throw him into all formats.  I would like to see a gradual build-up with him.”

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

Jason Holder admitted it has been difficult to adapt to a new role in the West Indies Test side, after the captaincy was handed to Kraigg Brathwaite.

Holder opted not to tour Bangladesh in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Brathwaite filling in as captain.

Brathwaite subsequently retained the leadership role for the home series against Sri Lanka in March, and the batsman will again be captain for South Africa's tour of the Caribbean.

It was a decision that came as a surprise to Holder – who had been captain since 2015 – though the 29-year-old is now hoping he can use the opportunity to focus more on his own game.

"It was kind of a shock. Yeah, still lost for words in regards to that, but I am not dwelling on it. I don't think it's something I should dwell on, to be fair," Holder told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the first Test of the two-match series, which starts on Thursday.

"Yeah, it's been difficult. I probably may not show it, but it has been difficult.

"For the last five-six years, I've been captaining West Indies, whether that be Test-match cricket or one-day cricket. So now being relieved of both captaincies, it has been a strange transition for me personally."

Holder had some fine individual moments during his captaincy, though in total only managed 11 Test wins, compared to 21 defeats.

"I am just trying to find ways to move on and transition back to just being a regular player. For me now, it's about showing a bit more of my character, and being a lot more… I would say outspoken. I am relatively outspoken, but just expressing myself a little bit more and having fun," he added.

"I feel as though I have been really, really committed to West Indies cricket – I am still committed to West Indies cricket, but more or less for me now it's just about having fun and enjoying however many days I have playing international cricket.

"There is a lot less pressure, a lot less responsibility. It's just about me now personally… I'm 100 per cent a team man. So I'll play my part to help the team and if there are other players who are seeking out advice or guidance, no doubt I'll be here to give them that."

The Proteas, meanwhile, are set to hand a debut to Keegan Petersen, who has drawn the praises of new Test captain Dean Elgar.

"I've been nervous for a while now," said Petersen, who is likely to replace the retired Faf du Plessis.

"It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock."

BLACKWOOD CLOSING IN ON MILESTONE

Jermaine Blackwood could well be crucial if the Windies are to pull off a series victory this month, though they do face a South Africa team who have lost their last nine Tests as tourists.

He needs just 55 runs to bring up 2,000 in total in Test cricket, having averaged 37 from his 67 innings so far. Blackwood and the likes of Shai Hope and Kieran Powell – who have earned recalls – will need to be wary, however, with South Africa's bowling strike rate of 52.2 in Tests since 2018 ranking them behind only India (47.8).

Teenager bowler Jayden Seales, meanwhile, will be looking to make an impact on his debut.

TIME FOR RABADA TO CLICK BACK INTO GEAR

Only one pace bowler has taken more wickets than South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (202) in men's Tests since his debut in November 2015 (Stuart Broad – 203).

Rabada averages 23.4 and has a strike rate of 41.7 across 82 innings, but as of late the burden of carrying South Africa's attack appeared to have dragged him down prior to an 18-month COVID-19 enforced lay off for the team.

While questions remain over the rest of South Africa's pace attack, the tourists need Rabada to step up and deliver at his best. A five-for would be a good start – he has not taken one since March 2018 against Australia.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first time West Indies play South Africa in a men's Test since January 2015 – the Windies are winless in their last eight Tests against the Proteas (D2 L6).
- South Africa have won all their eight men’s Test series against the West Indies so far, four of which were won away in the Caribbean.
- West Indies have a win and two losses at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in men's Tests, the remaining four matches they have played at this venue ended in a draw.
- Quinton de Kock has dropped nine catches since 2019 in Test cricket; the only wicketkeeper to drop more catches during this period is India's Rishabh Pant (12).
- West Indies are unbeaten in their last four Tests (W2 D2); however, they lost their four such matches prior to this run.

Teams led by middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood and wicketkeeper/batsman Jahmar Hamilton will face off in the first of two ‘Best v Best’ matches set to begin Monday morning at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground as the West Indies ramp up preparations for the upcoming series against South Africa.

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