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The dismissal of Shai Hope was the turning point for West Indies in their second innings at the P Sara Oval. (Pic by Ishara Kodikara)

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

West Indies captain Jason Holder blamed his team’s poor batting performances for their 0-2 defeat in the two-match Test series played for the Sobers-Tissera trophy.

West Indies chasing a target of 244 on a turning P Sara Oval pitch were dismissed for 171 to hand out to Sri Lanka a 72-run win at with it the series.

“It’s a disappointing feeling. I feel we didn’t bat well this entire series. It’s clear that the batting let us down,” said Holder at the post-match press conference.

“I said that in this game we’d get 20 wickets. We got 20 wickets. We really fell short in the batting in the first innings. We were made to catch up. Credit to the bowlers who really stuck it out. They came back in the second innings and kept us in the game in a sense. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the runs today.”

Holder denied that his batsmen were incapable of handling spin.

“I wouldn’t say we have a difficulty playing spin. The nature of our wickets at home are not too far apart from here in Sri Lanka. I think our patience was lacking at stages of the innings,” said Holder.

“We probably didn’t trust our defence for as long as we probably should have. Can’t really say it’s an error against spin, but it’s just a case of being patient enough and trusting our defence.”

Comparing the two sides batting performances Holder said, “If you look at the top orders, Sri Lanka’s top order batted well and our top order didn’t. We were always struggling for an opening partnership and never really got it. And in our middle partnerships we struggled again, whereas Sri Lanka got some runs in the middle, their top order took the onus on themselves and made the bulk of the runs.

“Going forward we need to look at our top order and hopefully our top order can put the onus upon themselves to score the bulk of the runs for the team.

West Indies progressed well to a point when they were 80-1 and Holder was of the opinion it was the dismissal of Shai Hope that turned the game around in Sri Lanka’s favour.

“244 on this track would have been a good challenge for us; we were capable of getting it. Shai’s stumping at that time – that was a turning moment in the game. They (with Darren Bravo) had a good partnership going and again it was broken. We never really recovered from there,” said Holder.

“We had two bright sparks in terms of Bravo and Ramdin, and towards the end with Jomel and Kemar. We just need to find ways to get through these tough periods in terms of rotating the strike.

“Sri Lanka got on top of us with some very good bowling. They worked with their strengths and put some pressure on us, and we gave in to that pressure at that stage.”

Holder said what West Indies had learnt from the series is that they need to work on their temperament.

“At times we need to be a lot more patient and know which phases of the game to hang in and in which phases of the game we can attack. Sometimes we may look a little rash and sometimes we may look a little defensive. We just need to curb aggression with some defence and be a lot more defensive,” said Holder. \

“Our bowlers have come up trumps for us. Our bowlers did a very, very good job in the Test series. We got 10 wickets in the first Test match in Galle. We only got one chance to bowl. And we got 20 wickets here, which is what we asked of the bowlers. They keep doing what we ask. Everytime we asked them to put up their hands they come up for us.

“It’s not easy conditions to play four fast bowlers, but every time I call on a fast bowler he came up and he gave a good effort. In this Test match Jerome (Taylor) led us again. He came in with a little bit of a niggle, but he showed his maturity. He’s well-supported by myself and Kemar Roach and then the spinners came into play and did a job. All I can ask the bowlers is to keep improving and keep setting the tone for the rest of the team. Hopefully our batsmen can gain some of that confidence and momentum.”

Holder refused to undermine his team’s performances in the series but said that it was a good gauge to see where they were.

“We’re a very young side and this is probably the second or third series that we’ve had with this bunch of guys. The guys are getting the field for international cricket. It’s important that we just keep learning and learning as quickly as possible,” said Holder.

“It’s not just everyday that we’re going to be at the same stage in life. We need to keep progressing and keep getting better. In going forward we need to keep building – not giving up. Keep fighting as a team. Sticking together is very, very important. I know that we’ll get through this phase. I have full confidence in the guys to get through this together.”