Shaw, Pujara punish hapless West Indies

Prithvi Shaw and Cheteshwar Pujara built a mammoth 206-run partnership for the second wicket as India reached 232/3 at tea in the Rajkot Test.

Prithvi Shaw departed just before the tea break after making 134 on his debut.   -  PTI

A hundred on Ranji Trophy debut, a century on Duleep Trophy debut and now a ton on Test debut —that’s Prithvi Shaw for you.

A product of the generation, which is fearless and has no inhibitions, the 18-year-old has shadows of many any other Mumbai cricketer, but then, he is different. A hardworking young gentleman, Shaw would go all the way to live his dream.

Just like he would walk into a Oval Maidan or a Azad Maidan, Shaw walked into the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday morning with a familiar ease. As if this was his known turn as if he is a seasoned campaigner for India.

But, the reality? The youngster was just making his appearance in the Test arena. And he took things in his stride, with a classy knock of 134 to help India reach 232-3 at tea on the first day of the first Test against the West Indies.

Read: Shaw shines on debut in company with Pujara

As the temperature soared, making life tougher for the players, Shaw sizzled on debut — becoming the 15th Indian cricketer to score a ton on Test debut, and the youngest to achieve such a feat.

One of the most consistent performers at the domestic level, the young gun came in as an opener in the first-ever Test of his life, but looked cool and composed.

After the early exit of his opening partner, KL Rahul—who fell for a duck—Shaw made the most of the toothless West Indies bowling attack, pairing with local boy Cheteshwar Pujara. While Pujara steadied the ship, giving enough room to his young team-mate to express himself, Shaw ensured that he had a go at the West Indies bowlers.

That strategy helped India on a wicket that did not offer much help to the seamers. Though Shanon Gabriel, touched 150kmph, the rest of the attack looked quite listless and taking advantage of that, Shaw and Pujara stitched a 206-run partnership.

Also Read: Sublime Prithvi Shaw reaches ton on debut

Just when it looked as if both Pujara and Shaw would register centuries, Pujara fell for 86 off debutant Sherman Lewis. Trying to play it away from the body, Pujara was caught behind—falling 14 short of the coveted Test century.

After a while, Shaw too had a rather soft dismissal, offering a return catch to Devendra Bishoo. But by then, he had won hearts and had put India in the driver’s seat. Captain Virat Kohli was batting on four and Ajinkya Rahane was yet to open his account when tea was called.

It, however, was a good toss to win for India—which decided to keep faith in three experienced 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 Brathwaitte, failed to make a mark. While the spinners Roston Lamar Chase and Bishoo looked off-colour, Keemo Paul and debutant Lewis too were ineffective.

As his team-mates 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 travelers from the West Indies, looked hapless.

Before the match got underway, West Indies coach, Stuart Law, had spoken about having a proper plan against India. But there are days when nothing goes your way, and it was one such moment for West Indies.

On a day of Shaw show, there was no Calypso!