When two cricketers share a great bond off the field, that does reflect when they get together in a partnership. If one had doubts about it, it was proved with the record stand between Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich during West Indies’ first innings in the second Test against Zimbabwe. When the two got together, West Indies were stumbling at 230 for 7 and still trailed the hosts by 96 runs. After an easy victory in the first Test, West Indies faced a new spirited Zimbabwe that was going to do anything to deny the Windies a win here.
A fighting century from Zimbabwe’s opener Hamilton Masakadza and a 147-ball 80 from Sikander Raza down the order ensured Zimbabwe had a competitive score of 326 on the board in the first innings. That was followed by an exceptional spell from Raza that derailed the West Indies’ line-up. Out of the first seven batsmen, only one managed a half-century and it was up to Holder and Dowrich, who were the new batters at the crease, to pull their team out of this grave situation.
Holder, who had not scored a fifty in his last nine Test innings, wanted his partner Dowrich to get going here. He was certain that the young wicketkeeper-batsman had the ability to score runs in tricky situations like these. On the other hand, Dowrich whose place in the team was slowly becoming questionable as he was not living up to the expectations of the selectors with the bat.
“Shane has obviously not had the best time in the recent past and was in need of a score, so it was good to be out there. at was my determination – to get him to a score. We were under pressure, the Zimbabweans bowled well yesterday. We really needed a partnership to get back in the game and it was down to me and Shane to put one up,” the West Indian Captain Holder said.
There was Sikandar Raza, who broke into the West Indian batting line-up with his ruthless off-spin and registered his maiden five-for in professional cricket and then after a while he had a determined and adamant 26-year-old Dowrich who had only one aim – score runs. He was the first among the two batsmen to reach fifty and he needed 85 balls to do so. His captain and good friend, Holder, soon followed him off 92 deliveries. While Holder escaped a plumb LBW appeal as Zimbabwe were left with no DRS, Dowrich did not put a foot wrong. He displayed the art of playing under pressure and how that is done with an ease.
While Raza was the man who was too strong for half of the West Indian batters, he was smashed repeatedly through the covers by Dowrich and those shots could not get any better. Meanwhile, injecting some confidence in the partnership, Dowrich had motivated Holder too, who went for a huge six off Raza’s off-spin over long on.
After having gone seven Tests without a fifty, Dowrich batted for almost 300 minutes on slow and difficult conditions when more than half the side was sent back to the pavilion. To be more precise, Dowrich ended up with a score that was more than his scores of last 12 Test innings put together. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who also impressed with a superb work with theglovess behind the wickets, chipped in with a 232-ball 103 and in the last 12 innings together, he had scored just 100 runs. This testified the fact that how badly Dowrich needed to score runs to save his place in the side.
He not only scored runs, he went on to enter record books with his captain. Just when it looked like Zimbabwe could easily get a decent first innings lead, Dowrich and Holder entered to ruin their party. The two frustrated the bowlers as they piled up 212 runs for the eighth wicket. This was only the eight time in Test history that a pair had added 200 or more for the eighth wicket or lower in Test matches; and for the West Indies, it was their biggest partnership for the eighth wicket or lower. Before this, the biggest stand was between Clive Lloyd and Andy Roberts against India in Kolkata in 1983-84, when they had added 161 for the ninth wicket.
The record-breaking stand of Holder and Dowrich not only saved West Indies from a loss here but also has revived Dorwich, who would have lost himself if he would have failed with the bat yet again. In a shaky West Indian line-up, Dorwich’s form down the order will be crucial in the upcoming series, New Zealand being the first.