Spinners feast on West Indies

Spinners feast on West Indies

India's Cheteshwar Pujara (L) and Ravichandran Ashwin (R) celebrate after the dismissal of West Indies batsman Keith Brathwaite during the third day's play of the first Test cricket match between India and West Indies at the Saurashtra Cricket Association

 It appeared like the West Indies were in a hurry to hand a 1-0 lead to India in the two-match Test series.

Exhibiting a baffling batting performance, the visitors suffered an innings and 272 runs defeat on the third day of the first Test here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium on Saturday.

The Indian spinners devoured the visitors for fun as 14 wickets tumbled on the day. R Ashwin (4/37 & 2/71) pocketed six wickets for the match while chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (1/62 & 5/57) bagged his maiden five-wicket haul and completed the game with six scalps. Ravindra Jadeja (1/22 & 3/35), the first-innings centurion, didn’t want to be left behind as he ended with a match-haul of four wickets.

The win was India’s biggest, in terms of runs and Virat Kohli’s men will look to wrap up the series 2-0 when the second and final Test begins in Hyderabad from October 12. Debutant Prithvi Shaw, who slammed a marvellous century on the opening day, had more reasons to smile as he was adjudged the man of the match.

Resuming the day at 94/6, a first innings revival was an improbable task but overnight batsmen Roston Chase (53, 79b, 8x4) and Keemo Paul (47, 49b, 7x4, 2x6) showed the stomach for a fight. Umesh Yadav broke their 73-run stand. Ashwin’s guile tricked the tail-enders and the West Indies folded up for 181.

With a 464-run first innings lead, their biggest ever, India enforced the follow-on. The hosts had enough time to pick ten wickets. In three proven spinners, India had the firepower. But when your opponent is willing to surrender without contemplating a fight, there is very little to worry about.

In case the West Indies were thinking of making amends for the first innings debacle, a patient approach was their best option. But batsman after batsman, in an appalling manner, batted recklessly.  

Stand-in captain Kraigg Brathwaite’s soft dismissal was the start of West Indies’ harakiri. The opener, despite a short-leg (Shaw) in place, dabbed it straight to the fielder. The ones who followed Brathwaite gifted their wickets to Kuldeep and the Indian wasn’t complaining.

Shai Hope, who ridiculously attempted a big shot on his third ball, didn’t look convincing. Beaten by turn of a Kuldeep delivery, he was trapped in front. Shimron Hetymer’s shot selection was appalling. After striking a six, the southpaw tried a slog off Kuldeep only to edge it to short third man. Roston Chase couldn’t reproduce his fighting show of first innings. He departed in a tame manner, driving away from the body off Kuldeep and Ashwin pocketed a sharp low catch at cover.

The only positive to take away from the game for the West Indies was opener Kieran Powell’s (83, 93b, 8x4, 4x6) knock. The lanky left-hander showed intent. He was solid in his strokes and attempted a boundary shot only if the ball was in his zone.

Powell took on Ashwin, stepping down the track and hitting him for two fours and as many sixes. He drove well to the pacers and even capitalised on the short balls from the spinners. Kuldeep denied him a century when he had him caught at silly point by Shaw. And in no time, India emerged victorious.