Yashasvi Jaiswal, a young man from Bhadohi who toughened up on ruthless Mumbai Maidans, enjoyed his finest day on a cricket pitch with an unconquered debut hundred as India seized complete control on the second day of the opening Test against West Indies here.
Skipper Rohit Sharma (103 off 221 balls), also eschewed his natural flair en route to his 10th Test hundred and a record 229-run opening stand with Jaiswal (143 batting, 350 balls) as India batted cautiously but still did well enough to slowly bat West Indies out of the game, finishing the second day on 312 for two.
In the whole day, India managed only 232 runs in 90 overs.
Jaiswal, who batted the entire second day, has the seasoned Virat Kohli (36 batting, 96 balls) for company as the duo added 72 runs for the third wicket.
India now has a lead of 162 runs and is expected to bat for the better part of the third day before Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are once again unleashed on an opposition that doesn’t have enough technical wherewithal to counter them for two days.
FOLLOW BLOG | INDIA VS WEST INDIES FIRST TEST DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS
The 21-year-old Jaiswal and 36-year-old Rohit are players who could be called the antithesis to what the Mumbai school of ‘Khadoos’ batsmanship stands for. Both are flamboyant in their own right.
But on Thursday, they channelised their inner ‘Khadoos Mumbaikar’ as Jaiswal took 215 balls to become the 17th Indian debutant to score a hundred while Rohit had to wait for 220 balls to reach his landmark.
After 41 long years, since India’s 1982 tour of England where Suru Nayak and Sunil Gavaskar opened, there were two Mumbai men opening for the country and put up the best-ever stand of 229 against West Indies, beating the previous best of 201 set by Sanjay Bangar and Virender Sehwag back in 2001.
The Windsor Park track was a two-paced one where the ball gripped and there was some slow turn on offer. On tracks like these, it is difficult to score quickly but at the same time not too tough to hang around, grinding the opposition into submission.
It was old-fashioned Test match batting at its best. Jaiswal and Rohit did just that. Both trusted their defensive game when they found deliveries gripping and waited for the loose deliveries as none of the West Indies bowlers looked threatening.
Jaiswal’s hundred is certain to bring in its fair share of euphoria among fans as he is an endearing rags-to-riches success story.
The story of selling panipuris on Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, climbing on the boundary wall to catch a glimpse of IPL on a giant screen warms the cockles of your heart and one wants to see the young man succeed.
As he played what seemed like a half-sweep-half-lap shot towards backward square-leg for a single, Jaiswal let out a huge roar of relief and took a bow towards the dressing room. His innings had 14 fours and the best was the pull off Alzarri Joseph that got him to his fifty.
What stood out on the day was his solid technique, fair idea about where his off-stump was and very assured footwork against spinners. Add his impressive temperament to this cocktail - enormous patience and choice of loose deliveries - he looks like a ready package for international cricket.
What this century proved is that he belongs to the international level but on this track against an attack that was low on potency, one can’t judge how he would fare in tougher conditions like South Africa and Australia.
Maybe it was the attack and nature of the pitch that made a free-flowing stroke-maker like Rohit not that ecstatic even after scoring a hundred.
The best stroke of the day came from Rohit, whose flicked six over deep mid-wicket off Joseph (0/65 in 14 overs) was worth a million dollars. There was another effortless six in the same region off left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican along with a backfoot square cut. The India skipper was out immediately after scoring his 10th Test hundred when his defensive prod off debutant Alick Athanaze’s off-break ballooned up for keeper Joshua Da Silva to complete an easy catch.
Shubman Gill’s (6 off 10 balls) first game as No. 3 didn’t start off well.
After a sedate first session that yielded 66 runs, the second session was the most productive, with 99 runs, while the scoring rate again tapered off in the third session, which produced 67 runs.
In fact, such was the slowness of the track that Jaiswal was heard on stump microphone telling Kohli, “Zorse maar raha hoon, jaa hi nahi raha (I am hitting powerfully but the ball isn’t travelling).”
Jaiswal became the third Indian opener, after Shikhar Dhawan (vs Australia in 2013) and Prithvi Shaw (vs West Indies 2018), to score a hundred on Test debut.
While Dhawan could never replicate that afternoon in Mohali in his next 33 games, Shaw, who was the biggest thing coming out of Mumbai’s batting stable, lost his way a bit after a blazing start to his international career.
Jaiswal would feel that this start is the foundation of a lot of bigger things to come in the coming days..
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