Kyle Mayers said Tuesday that vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood had predicted his two-wicket burst which helped West Indies stall Sri Lanka’s progress late on Tuesday’s third day of the opening Test.
Under pressure after Oshada Fernando (91) and Lahiru Thirimanne (76) built a record 162-run, second-wicket stand to put their side in control at 170 for one, half-hour after tea, West Indies rebounded to snatch three wickets for 19 runs thanks to Mayers’s double strike.
The brisk medium pacer removed Fernando with the first ball of his spell to claim his first-ever Test wicket before accounting for veteran Dinesh Chandimal in his very next over, as Sri Lanka slipped to 189 for four before closing the day on 255 without further loss.
“I always wanted to get [my first] wicket,” said Mayers, who was considered a bowling all-rounder in first-class cricket before picking up an ankle injury a few seasons ago.
“The guys were pressuring me back in the dressing room earlier today. Jermaine Blackwood especially. He was saying he had more Test wickets than me and I need to get on the board.
“He actually called it. When I got on the ball he said, ‘Kyle, there are two wickets here for you’ and I just backed myself.
“The ball was going away slightly so I just used that to my advantage and it worked out well.”
Both dismissals were identical, Mayers forcing both batsmen to nick gentle away-swingers to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva.
Mayers, 28, has taken 72 first-class wickets at an average of 22 with three five-wicket hauls but earned his spot in the Test side through his aggressive batting, which saw him fashion an astonishing unbeaten double hundred on debut in Bangladesh last month.
However, after sending down 16 overs in the two-Test series against Bangladesh, Mayers said his teammates had encouraged him to continue working on his bowling.
“I always knew within myself I am capable of taking wickets,” Mayers explained.
“The team had backed me from [the] previous series back in Bangladesh. I didn’t get any wickets [then] but the guys always said I had the skill and ability to do it.
“The captain asked me to do a job [today] and I just came and I tried my best.”
He continued: “After the first wicket obviously my confidence was up in the air. I thought I had the ability to get more wickets given the opportunity and it worked out nicely.”
West Indies trail by 153 runs heading into Wednesday’s day four and Mayers said the home side needed to stay disciplined to limit the victory target.
“The plan is to stay as tight as possible, obviously to try and minimise the lead they have on us,” he stressed.
“Hopefully we can get two early wickets to get down to the tail-enders and work from there.”