Sir Jadeja swings sword on wounded Windies

On a day two surface, Ravindra Jadeja (100 not out) and Virat Kohli (139) wreaked havoc leaving the tourist hapless.

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates his century on the second day of the first Test between India and West Indies in Rajkot.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

India’s last Test outing at home ended in a two-day affair against Afghanistan in June. Now, with the West Indies reeling, is a three-day finish on the cards?

Such questions could be heard in the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium premises on Friday as wickets tumbled for West Indies at regular intervals — making it end the day on 94-6 — trailing by 555 runs — in the first Test against India.

This comes after India declared its first innings on 649-9 —courtesy centuries by captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja on Friday.

On a day two surface where the Indian batsmen dominated, an inexperienced West Indies side looked clueless as none of the batsmen could tackle the Indian bowlers. If Mohammed Shami rattled the openers, Kraig Brathwaite — who is also the stand-in captain — and Kieran Powell early in the innings, the middle order too looked out of place, and literally ended up gifting wickets.

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After striking his first Test century — six years after making debut in the longest format — earlier in the day, local boy Jadeja spinned out Sunil Ambris for 12 to put the pressure on the visiting side. Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin also scalped one wicket apiece.

At stumps, Roston Chase was unbeaten on 27, and Keemo Paul was not out on 13.

As the Indian bowlers toyed with the Caribbean batting line-up, it also raised questions on whether this set of West Indies cricketers are still ready for big-ticket cricket.

SCORECARD

It was, however, not just the batting department which put West Indies in a spot. The bowlers lacked direction as Kohli and Jadeja went on a rampage in the first innings.

While the bowlers seemed to have no plan to tackle the stars of Indian cricket, captain Brathwaite too failed to motivate the young side. And taking advantage of that, Kohli played a gritty knock of 139 and Jadeja remained unbeaten on 100 to help India put up a mammoth total in the first innings. The gentleman from Jamnagar crafted his innings with five boundaries and five sixes.

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Kohli became the second fastest batsman to reach 24th Test hundred — just behind Sir Donald Bradman. He brought up his century in 123 innings, Bradman had achieved it in 66 innings.

Youngster Rishabh Pant too impressed with the willow, before falling eight short of his Test ton. Trying to slice a googly from Devendra Bishoo to short third man, Pant lobbed a simple catch to Keemo Paul.

The Pant breezer!

Resuming the day on 364-4, both the Delhi batsmen made it a point to ensure that there was no slip-up. While Virat anchored the ship, Pant played a faster knock — reaching 92 in just 84 balls — laced with eight boundaries and four sixes. The two stitched a 133-run partnership.

Kohli was caught at mid-on by Devendra Bishoo off Sherman Lewis shortly after lunch.

The West Indies bowlers cut a sorry figure as none of their strategies worked on a track that helped the batsmen. Even as it picked up some quick wickets at the fag end, the bowlers were far from impressive.

After its quicks failed to provide breakthroughs, the touring side relied heavily on Bishoo. Though he took four wickets in the innings, he proved to be quite expensive, conceding 217 runs.

Coming into the tour, West Indies captain Jason Holder and coach Stuart Law had expected a fight, but two days into the series, the side looks far from being competitive.

With most of the stands empty and the visiting side displaying abysmal form, one wonders how much this series benefits India ahead of its tour Down Under.