GALLE, Sri Lanka (CMC) — West Indies Test Captain Kraigg Brathwaite says discipline, defending balls and staying at the crease for extended periods will be key for his squad as they seek to combat the Sri Lankan spin attack and end the year with a victory in their final Test here on Monday.
He said if the team can stick to the game plan, they can bounce back and win the second Test to avoid another series loss.
“The plan is to be clear on what you want to do and believe that you can do it…and do it for long periods as well…I think that's the key. We gotta have the discipline and the fight to do it for over two sessions, over three sessions. I think that's very important for us,” the Windies skipper said ahead of the match.
“I think discipline is really the key…We bowled a number of bad balls and we didn't bat that well in that first game at all and it's just about getting the two to blend, and the sooner we can do that and the more consistent we can do that, that would be very, very crucial.”
West Indies lost the first Test at Galle International Stadium by 187 runs after their top order fared badly, managing only 100 for six in the first innings and slumping to 18 for six in the second.
Despite middle-order batter Nkrumah Bonner's second-innings 220-ball, four-and-a-half-hour defiant knock, and wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Da Silva's supporting fight in the lower order after the Caribbean men resumed the final day on 52-6, West Indies were unable to beat the home side.
But Brathwaite said the team had learned some lessons from Bonner and Da Silva that will be useful in the next Test.
“In terms of how they were able to manoeuvre different balls was a very good example for us, and just the fight that they showed. Coming back into that last game, and they bringing us from [18 for 6], I think that was commendable. As a batting group, looking on it was good to see, and obviously something to learn from going forward for sure,” the right-handed batsman said.
“I think Bonner and Josh showed that once you have a solid defence, whether front foot or back foot, and you put the effort in and the energy into doing it, you'll be successful. It's only sometimes when doubt comes in, that's when you could slip up a bit…but you know it's just to be sure and to trust that defence basically. That's what the guys did for all that period they batted. Bad balls will bowl and you will get runs. We did it well in part, it's just to do it for an extended period now.
“We had a lot of discussions and one important thing is that you've got to defend a lot of balls. So, I think having a straight bat is one thing we discussed which would be very important, and sweeping as well, especially the offspinner. But it's just to be clear and be confident in whether [you're playing] forward or back,” he added.
Brathwaite acknowledged that beating Sri Lanka would not be easy, but possible.
“We didn't do as good as we can do as a team, so we know it will be a challenge. But we're up for the task and we know where we have to improve. First innings total as a batting unit is crucial, especially in these conditions and we know what we have to do and improve on for sure,” he said.
The West Indies skipper added that winning the upcoming Test is important, especially given it will be the last opportunity this year to get points to go towards the World Test Championship.
Of the three games so far, West Indies have won one and lost two.
“So it's important to finish strong, in terms of 2021, and be fully focused…. Once we can stick to our plan as batters and bowlers and fielders, we will do well,” Brathwaite said.
“I think we showed good progress in 2021. It was not a good series against South Africa. We bounced back decent against Pakistan. In Bangladesh we won that series 2-nil. It is a decent year so far. Winning this game…will be very crucial from a points point of view for the Test Championship. I think as a team we've made some strides and I think that's most important. Once the group stays together and keeps building that unit, I think that's crucial for the team but finishing well here is very important for us,” he added.