NORTH POINT, Antigua (AP) — Nkrumah Bonner scored his first test century and batted throughout the final day to allow the West Indies to draw the first cricket test against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
The West Indies began their second innings 374 runs behind Sri Lanka and came into the final day at 34-1, still 340 runs behind and facing a battle to save the match. When stumps were drawn early, the West Indies were 236-4, with Bonner 113 not out and Jason Holder on 13.
Sri Lanka would have begun the day with some hopes of winning the match, with nine West Indies wickets standing between it and victory. West Indies did, though, chase down 395 to beat Bangladesh in Chattogram only last last month.
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne maintained defensive fields for the most of the day and his bowlers were mostly accurate but not too threatening.
Bonner provided the solid anchor the home team needed, first putting on 66 with his captain Kraigg Brathwaite (23) for the second wicket, then finding an able partner in Kyle Mayers with whom he added 105 in a partnership which occupied 36 overs. He finally added 32 in just under 15 runs with Holder.
Mayers was out for 52 in the first over after tea, having notched his first test half century. Jermaine Blackwood (4) followed when the West Indies were 204-4, raising the tension a little in the home dressing room.
But Bonner remained immovable. He spent eight balls on 99 before going to his maiden century with a cover-driven four off Vishwa Fernando.
At that point, the 32-year-old Jamaican, in only his sixth test innings, had faced 243 deliveries — 186 of which were dot balls — and hit 11 fours and a six.
“It’s truly special for me,” Bonner said. “This was my childhood dream and I’m really happy to get this monkey off my back.
“Personally, in the first innings my feet weren’t moving as much as I wanted them to. I did some work in the nets with the batting coach. The Sri Lankan bowlers are very disciplined so it was important for me to construct my innings with discipline."
His innings was disciplined and almost chanceless. He survived an appeal for caught behind when he was 50, immediately calling for a review which showed the ball from Lasith Embuldeniya had slipped past the edge of the bat.
Embuldeniya found some turn, especially during the second session, and Suranga Lakmal swung the second new ball. But wicket-taking was always likely to be difficult on a flat fifth-day pitch, on which the greatest danger might have been from the ball keeping low.
The match was enthralling throughout. After winning the toss, the West Indies bowled out Sri Lanka for 169 with Holder taking 5-27.
The West Indies made 271 in reply, for a lead of 102. Sri Lanka’s 476 in the second innings was anchored by Pathum Nissanka’s maiden test century and his partnership with Niroshan Dickwella, who made 96.
The second test begins Monday, also at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
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