Kraigg Brathwaite (left) and Jomel Warrican have recorded figures of 6/29 and 4/67 in the second and first Sri Lankan innings respectively © AFP
Kraigg Brathwaite (left) and Jomel Warrican have recorded figures of 6/29 and 4/67 in the second and first Sri Lankan innings respectively © AFP

The second Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies was a low-scoring contest, with the spinners on both sides being the prime beneficiaries at the P Sara Stadium in Colombo. The West Indians, who seemed to be short of specialist spinners ahead of the Test series, have now discovered two gems in Jomel Warrican and, surprisingly, Kraigg Brathwaite. Their performances have livened the game up and have given the visitors a genuine chance of winning their first-ever Test on Sri Lankan soil. Amit Banerjee feels that the West Indians must encourage the duo further, especially young Warrican, with more opportunities in order to bolster them.

The ongoing second Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies has brought a refreshing, much-needed change to the ongoing series. Following the dreary, one-sided encounter in the first game at Galle, which saw the Sri Lankans register an innings and six-run win thanks to some brilliant individual efforts, the series has finally come alive and is witnessing a tough battle between the two sides.

The primary reason for the close contest would be the lively P Sara Stadium track, which is known for its decent pace and carry (Dhammika Prasad took 4 for 34 in West Indies’ first innings), as well as the turn it offers later in the day. Wickets tumbled at regular intervals on each day of the Test, which made for an exciting match.

The two matches so far have seen the spinners dominate. While it doesn’t evoke any surprise when coming from the Sri Lankans, given the presence of one Rangana Herath as well as the likes of Dilruwan Perera and Tharindu Kaushal, the West Indians were worried about the lack of any specialist spinners in their side barring Devendra Bishoo ahead of the tour.

Following the drubbing in the first Test, the visitors decided to make one important change to their squad — replace pacer Shannon Gabriel with uncapped spinner Jomel Warrican. The move turned out to be a fruitful one as Warrican managed to extract healthy turn with the old ball, especially in the second and third sessions of the day, and ended up recording figures of 4 for 67 on debut. The Lankans, who had dominated with the bat at Galle for the most part, were surprisingly bowled out for 200.

It was a slightly different story in Sri Lanka’s second innings. Having bowled the Caribbean guests out 37 runs short of their total thanks to the efforts of Prasad along with Dilruwan (3 for 28), the hosts went into stumps on Day 2 for a score of 76 for 2. The duo of Milinda Siriwardana and skipper Angelo Mathews forged a 67-run stand and helped their side cross the 150-run mark. That’s when West Indian skipper Jason Holder handed the ball to Brathwaite, whose only wicket in his Test career so far was that of ‘The Wall’ Rahul Dravid. READ: Kraigg Brathwaite’s 6/29 helps bowl Sri Lanka out for 6/29 in 2nd innings

The decision turned out to be one of the most crucial in the tournament so far, with Brathwaite responding brilliantly with a remarkable haul of 6 for 29. The West Indian opening batsman and part-time spinner managed to flight the ball quite well and foxed the batsmen, who were mostly looking to play against the spin and ended up getting an edge to the slips.

It is an accepted fact that West Indies are a rapidly declining team in the longest format, with most of their key players currently drifting away from the traditional format towards the cash-rich Twenty20 one. Among the major flaws in the West Indian side is the absence of a quality spinner, with Sunil Narine‘s extraordinary skills being restricted to the limited-overs formats.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) however, may have got one thing right in appointing Jason Holder as their Test and ODI captain, a move that appears progressive at the moment. It would be great if they could mark Warrican and Brathwaite out as two reliable spin options for future matches on spin-friendly tracks, along with appointing a regular coach and keeping their self-destructive ways in check.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)