TEST: Another three-day defeat for West Indies in India
SUMMARY: India 367 (Pant 92, Rahane 80, Shaw 70, Holder 5-56) and 75 for 0 beat West Indies 311 (Chase 106, Holder 52, Umesh 6-88) and 127 (Ambris 38, Hope 28, Umesh 4-45) by 10 wickets
Another West Indies Test in India, another three-day finish. By the end of it, it seems scarcely believable that West Indies had at one point put India under such pressure that they risked a serious injury to Shardul Thakur for a few extra runs.
That was when West Indies’ talismanic leader Jason Holder had dragged West Indies back into the contest, but India somehow managed to eke out a 56-run lead, which proved decisive thanks to another batting failure.
Umesh Yadav was on a hat-trick twice; he didn’t get it, but became only the third Indian fast bowler to take a 10-for at home, paving the way for India’s 10th straight series win at home with only the fourth Man-of-the-Match award for a fast bowler in India this decade.
It is staggering the match ended when it did. Only 14 wickets had fallen in the first two days. West Indies had managed to stay competitive, and had at one point put India under pressure on the second afternoon with four wickets down for 162. Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane then bailed India out, and began the day only three behind West Indies’ 311.
Personal centuries and a big lead were in sight, but Holder had other ideas. He took the new ball first thing in the morning, found some support from the other end, and West Indies took six wickets for 59 runs in 25.4 overs in the first session. Holder’s five-for, his third in last three innings, was the first for a West Indies quick in India since 1994. Holder attacked the stumps despite his height – 52% of his deliveries would have hit the stumps – and drew the benefits.
The first of Holder’s three wickets on the third morning came thanks to extra bounce on a length ball outside off, which meant Rahane is still without a century since last August. Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav fell lbw and bowled to his accurate bowling, and Shannon Gabriel peppered Pant with the short ball to dismiss him for a second successive 92.
On the first Indian pitch in eight years to produce two five-fors for fast bowlers, India’s were now without their second quick, Thakur, who only managed to bowl 10 balls in the first innings before re-injuring his groin. However, he made a big contribution by walking out to bat, risking severe damage to his groin, hobbling through for runs, and adding 28 crucial runs with R Ashwin for the last wicket. West Indies were two down by the time those 28 runs were scored again.
In Thakur, Ashwin found support, although not always intelligent. This partnership was not expected to flourish much because Ashwin is not known as a big hitter, and neither batsman at this moment was a quick enough runner to be able to manipulate the strike. However, Ashwin played with patience, invested trust in Thakur, and managed to hit four boundaries. Eventually Gabriel burst through his defence, but the lead had doubled during that partnership.
West Indies had given themselves a chance to put India under pressure batting last. They desperately needed their batsmen to capitalise. If somehow they could give West Indies a 75-run lead by the time the lower-middle-order engine room of Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder came out to bat, they could have put India under tremendous pressure. Nothing of that sort happened.
In the first over, Kraigg Brathwaite tickled Umesh down the leg side. Kieran Powell showed immense uncertainty as he kept leaving wide Ashwin offbreaks alone before poking at one for no reason. All four balls in that over had ended on the same wide line: he left the first three alone, and edged the fourth. Shimron Hetmeyer got into his innings, but again played one attacking shot too many, holing out to point for the second time this series.
Shai Hope scored another pretty 20 before playing a Jadeja delivery with an open face and offering Rahane a simple catch at slip. West Indies were still 11 runs from making India bat again. After a tight spell from spinners against Sunil Ambris and Chase, Umesh came back with a damaging spell of reverse swing, getting rid of first-innings centurion Chase and the injured Shane Dowrich in successive deliveries just before tea. Both men were bowled, making it six lbws or bowleds out of nine wickets for Umesh in this match.
Having done all the hard work with the ball in the first session, Holder was back in the middle in the second, this time padded up and fighting to keep West Indies afloat. He could do so for a partnership that lasted 10 overs, but Jadeja now ran through the tail. With nine wickets down, Virat Kohli called Umesh back to give him a shot at a maiden 10-for, and he responded by shattering Gabriel’s stumps first ball: seven of his 10 victims were either lbw or bowled.
Bowled in under 50 overs again, West Indies set India only 72 to get. In dying light, Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul proceeded to get those without much drama except that the Mumbai diehards lost out on another opportunity to compare Shaw with Sachin Tendulkar as he was given not out on an lbw appeal with a bouncer. The ball did stay low but not low enough to overturn the not-out call. (ESPNCricinfo)