WARM-UP: Hundreds for Ambris and Hope
Centuries from Shai Hope and Sunil Ambris helped the West Indians rally to 451-9, despite a top-order stutter that had them at 135-5 at one stage on the opening day of the tour match against New Zealand A in Lincoln.
The centuries hold promise for the tourists ahead of the first Test, which starts December 1. Hope, West Indies’ highest run-getter in Tests in 2017 and their best batsman on the tours of England and Zimbabwe, struck form with a steady 110 off 133 balls.
Ambris, on the other hand, pressed his case for a spot in the Test with a rapid 153 off 145 balls. The centuries were the only knocks in excess of 50 on the first day, after Roston Chase (49), Shane Dowrich (35) and Jason Holder (31) failed to carry on and convert their starts.
The early damage in the West Indian innings came from fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who had taken a 12-for in a Plunket Shield game earlier in the month. Two early wickets from Ferguson, and one from seamer Logan van Beek, had the West Indians pinned at 45-3 by the 12th over.
Chase and Hope steadied the innings with an 81-run stand for the fourth wicket, but Chase’s dismissal – by Ferguson – was quickly followed by Jermaine Blackwood’s wicket, leaving the West Indians in danger of compiling a below-par score.
Hope and Ambris averted that possibility with a 155-run partnership for the sixth wicket, that came at a rapid scoring rate of 6.88. Ambris, in particular, took the charge to New Zealand A in the third session.
Having resumed on 51 after tea, Ambris raced to a hundred off 85 balls, his second fifty taking just 30 deliveries. By the time he was dismissed, the eighth wicket of the innings, Ambris had struck 24 fours and a six and had pushed the score past 400, with helpful contributions from Dowrich and Holder. The third session yielded 204 runs in 36 overs.
“It was one of my better knocks for a while now,” Ambris said at the end of the day. “When I just got in, I had to play as much balls as possible, I had to leave a lot, not really try to score but play myself in. It was made a lot easier when I was batting with Shai; he was batting very quickly and took pressure off me. I was then able to score freely and capitalise on the bad deliveries.”
Ferguson dismissed both centurions, and had returns of 5-67, while his fellow seamers, Hamish Bennett and van Beek, had one and two wickets respectively. (ESPNCricinfo)