Sat, 04 Jul 2020

Lunch India 297 (Vihari 81, Jadeja 58, Roach 4-66, Gabriel 3-71) v West Indies

What India's top order couldn't do on the first day, their eighth-wicket partnership did expertly on the second morning of the first Test against West Indies.

Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma frustrated the hosts for the majority of the session, putting on a 60-run eighth-wicket stand before the latter fell for 19. Their effort helped India post 297 in their first innings, with the visitors adding 94 runs to their overnight total before being bowled out.

India started the day on 203 for 6, but Rishabh Pant fell in the day's third over, to Kemar Roach. The bowler's natural angle, going away from the left-hand batsman, found the outside edge of Pant who tried to drive, only to be caught by Jason Holder at second slip.

Thereafter, Ishant bunted balls the few balls that were aimed at the stumps while leaving those - a majority - that weren't, and collecting what he could. From the other end, Jadeja dealt in ones and twos while picking boundaries when the opportunity to free his arms arrived.

The day's first four came from Jadeja, driving Roach through gully. When Holder went around the wicket, Jadeja was fairly defensive up until he was offered a short ball wide outside the stumps. Jadeja crunched that through point, indicating that the new ball was easier to score off. When Roach looked to cramp Jadeja with a short ball, he swivelled to drill a pull to deep midwicket.

The short ball, however, was not so easy for Ishant, although he did play at them with soft hands. He was often attacked with the deliveries aimed at his mid-riff, and many balls from Holder came off his glove or bat-handle. A few even fell marginally short of square leg. Ishant finally fell to Shannon Gabriel, dismissed by a slow yorker outside the off stump. Ishant tried to dig the ball out, but with it rolling onto his stumps, his innings had an anti-climactic end.

That brought in No. 10 Mohammad Shami, but he lasted just one ball, chipping a full delivery back to the bowler Roston Chase. With last man Jasprit Bumrah for company, Jadeja changed gears immediately, slapping Gabriel past the slip cordon to stamp his intent. Shoddy glovework didn't help West Indies either; they conceded two bye-boundaries in back-to-back overs as India went past 280.

After Bumrah survived 11 balls without much drama, Jadeja reached his 11th Test half-century by cutting Chase through point as the session went into the extra half hour. Playing as the only designated spinner in the team, Jadeja played a near-chanceless innings up until his landmark. The next ball, Jadeja swept Chase for the Test's first six. Two overs later, Jadeja tried pulling Holder but sliced it to the wicketkeeper. That brought the curtains down on India's recovery after they were reduced to 25 for 3 within the first hour of the Test.

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