When you’ve been flayed by the world’s No. 1 Test team by an innings and 272 runs, with your top five managing a combined total of 35 in the first innings, you can’t help but treat every over on its merit. Forget sessions. The focus inevitably switches from fight to survival.
Putting the learnt lessons from the Rajkot drubbing to use, West Indies survived the first day’s play. Roston Chase struck an unbeaten 98 (174b, 7×4, 1×6) — his second successive half-century — and in captain Jason Holder’s (52, 92b, 6×4) company, stitched together a 104-run seventh wicket partnership as it finished on 295 for seven at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday.
Earlier, Shardul Thakur’s — fifth Indian Test debutant in 2018 — day in office was cut short in an unfortunate fashion after the India speedster was forced to leave the field due to a groin strain after bowling only 10 deliveries.
The early stutter
West Indies won the toss and decided to bat. Openers Kieran Powell (22, 30b, 4×4) and Kraigg Brathwaite (14, 68b, 2×4) showed promise, with Powell hitting four boundaries, though three were streaky hits.
The duo added 32 for the first wicket but when Powell stepped out to a slightly wide delivery from Ashwin, he ended up finding Ravindra Jadeja at cover.
The left-hander was Ashwin’s 500th first-class wicket.
Umesh Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of 3/83. He celebrates the wicket of Shai Hope. – K.R. Deepak
Kuldeep Yadav, then, ended Brathwaite’s 68-ball vigil with a delivery that pitched on a length and spun back sharply to trap him in front.
Shai Hope (36, 68b, 5×4) looked in solid touch at the other end, playing a couple of delightful drives off Umesh Yadav, and together with S. Hetmyer, collected 32 for the second wicket.
The visitor might well have had the first session to its name but for Umesh, who beat Hope for pace and had him adjudged lbw in the last over before lunch.
Chase, Holder drop anchor
Kuldeep had left Windies reeling at 113/5 when Chase and Dowrich (30, 63b, 4×4, 1×6) dug deep in a 69-run sixth wicket stand, which saw Chase take a liking to Jadeja’s left-arm spin.
Roston Chase found the runs on both sides of the wicket.
Chase clobbered him for a six over mid-wicket and even played two handsome looking drives off the Indian all-rounder.
Dowrich, at the other end, showed good timing and placement during his knock and even smoked Jadeja for a six over long-on.
The pair’s resistance ended when Umesh — once again — trapped him lbw with a reverse swinging delivery. He was the fourth leg-before victim in the innings.
Shardul’s injury meant India was effectively a bowler short throughout the day. Spinners Kuldeep (3/74), Ravichandran Ashwin (1/49) and Jadeja (0/69) shared the workload. Jadeja struggled with his length, bowling either too full or short.
Umesh Yadav (3/83), the lone pacer, bowled with good pace but was duly punished when the length was too wide or too full.
India took the new ball in the 87th over, with Holder — who brought up a half century with a pull over mid-wicket — getting caught behind off Umesh in the 90th over.