It couldn't have been ironic that at a time when the relevance of bilateral series and existence of Test cricket is being widely debated came India's home series versus the West Indies. With the manner in which the first Test unfolded, one couldn't help but wonder if such a lop-sided contest does more harm than good for the longest format of the game.
No doubt, India was clinical in virtually every aspect of the game and the young crop took another leap towards cementing their place in the team. Prithvi Shaw and Kuldeep Yadav deserve all the accolades for their achievements. While the teenager Shaw made his Test debut even more special with a hundred, chinaman Kuldeep returned to the team to earn his maiden five-wicket haul in only his fourth Test. Rishabh Pant, also featuring in his fourth Test, missed his second hundred by a whisker and showed the desire to work hard on his wicket-keeping skills. Not to mention the seasoned pros like captain Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin and Mohammed Shami all making vital contributions.
While India was on song, a largely inexperienced West Indies squad was depleted with the absence of captain Jason Holder and seasoned pacer Kemar Roach. While Holder failed to recover from an ankle injury he suffered during the Windies' preparatory camp in Dubai, Roach had to fly back home due to bereavement in the family.
READ: Kohli surpasses Azhar's record
All these factors amalgamated into the Test match being virtually converted into a farce. Let alone a session, not even for an hour during the match did it appear that the visiting outfit can at least compete versus the fancied host. Naturally, dominating the proceedings right from the word go, India won the opening rubber at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in a little over two and a half days.
Despite heaps of records having been created during the eight sessions' play, one was left wondering who actually benefits from such mismatches. The players don't really get the high of playing at the biggest stage, the spectators – as was witnessed during the match – turn their back on a no-contest and the broadcaster continues to bleed.
Perhaps, it's time for the governing body of the game to seriously give a thought to introducing a two-tier system in Test matches. Agreed that the opening two-year cycle of the World Test Championship is set to begin next year. However, with the gap between top four and other teams is widening so much that one wonders if the addition of context will improve the quality of the game.
As India enjoys two additional days' break before leaving for the second Test in Hyderabad, a commentator wondered if it would make sense for India to field what would essentially be the India A squad, by resting all the regulars. While the thought appears impractical, the fact that a pundit feels the need for offering such handicaps in Test cricket speaks volumes about the state of international cricket.