As the mercury soared on Thursday afternoon, India’s young talent, Prithvi Shaw, sizzled on debut at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium. The 18-year-old from Mumbai remained unbeaten on 75 off 74 balls as India reached 133-1 at lunch on the first day of the fixture.
Shaw, who has been one of the most consistent performers at the domestic level, proved his class, displaying flawless batting. He also became the youngest Indian to score a half-century on Test debut.
After the early exit of his opening partner, K.L. Rahul — who fell for a duck — Shaw kept his cool and made the most of the toothless West Indies bowling attack.
LIVE: India vs West Indies — 1st Test at Rajkot, Day 1
While Shaw looked settled in the middle, he was ably supported by seasoned campaigner and local boy, Cheteshwar Pujara — who was batting on 56.
Coming into the play after Rahul’s departure, it was important for India to steady the ship, and Pujara — who had a rather forgettable outing in England — ensured that the youngest member of the team was well protected. In the process, he also picked his 19th half-century in the Test career.
That strategy helped India on a wicket that did not offer much help to the West Indies bowlers. Though Shanon Gabriel touched 150kmph, the rest of the attack looked quite listless and taking advantage of that, Shaw and Pujara stitched a 130-run partnership.
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While it was a good toss to win for India — which decided to keep faith in three seasoned spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav — West Indies suffered a big blow ahead of the toss as its captain, Jason Holder, was ruled out of the game following an ankle injury.
With the strike bowler out of the fray, West Indies, under the leadership of Kraigg Brathwaite, failed to make a mark. While the spinners Roston Lamar Chase and Devendra Bishoo looked off-colour, Keemo Paul and debutant Sherman Lewis too were ineffective. As his teammates appeared clueless, Gabriel fought the lone battle. He got the early breakthrough, trapping Rahul on the pads. Even though the Indian opener appealed for a review, it did not go in his favour.
The visiting side, however, could not capitalize on the good start as it allowed Shaw and Pujara to anchor the ship. With Kemar Roach out of the game following a bereavement in the family and Holder picking up a last-minute injury, the travellers from the West Indies looked hapless.
The first session also portrayed a sorry picture for Test cricket as most of the stands remained empty. The Saurashtra Cricket Association, however, brought in school kids to watch the match, but that was not enough to fill the stands.