The formidable Indian team thumped Windies by an innings and 272 runs on the third day of the first Test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot to claim a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. This is India’s biggest victory in Test cricket.
Sizeable contributions from debutant Prithvi Shaw (134), Cheteshwar Pujara (86), captain Virat Kohli (139), Rishabh Pant (92) and Ravindra Jadeja (100*) helped India amass 649 for 9 declared in their first innings. In reply, Windies were bundled out for just 181 in 48 overs. With a huge 468-run lead, India expectedly enforced the follow-on. The track was offering a good amount of turn and Kuldeep Yadav pounced on it, picking up his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket as the visiting were bowled out for just 196 runs in 50.5 overs in their second essay.
With a mountain to climb, Windies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell went after R Ashwin, who picked up four wickets in the first dig, from the word go. Powell, in particular, was ruthless and used his feet well against the spinners. The two added 32 runs for the opening wicket and were looking in decent touch before Ashwin sent Brathwaite back for 10 with a flighted delivery on the stumps, which the right-handed batsman ended up mistiming it to the forward short leg. Shai Hope (17) and Shimron Hetmyer (11) stuck for a while but couldn’t lend enough support to Powell, who by then had gone into Twenty20 mode.
Kuldeep, who had a rough outing in the first innings, bowled a much more tight line and length in the second. The left-arm wrist spinner first trapped Hope in front for his first wicket before getting rid of highly-rated Hetmyer who went for a wild slog across the line only to be caught at short third man. Windies batsmen seemed in a hurry to finish the game and played far too many strokes. Sunil Ambris (nought), with no clue which way the ball will turn, stepped out for the glory shot against Kuldeep and ended up paying price for his recklessness.
Despite wickets falling at the other end, Powell kept on attacking and smoked eight fours and four sixes in his knock of 83 before becoming Kuldeep’s fifth victim. That’s when Ashwin and Jadeja took over and cleaned up the tail in no time.
Earlier, resuming the day on 94 for 6, the overnight batsmen Roston Chase and Keemo Paul started on a positive note and kept finding boundaries at regular intervals. India started with spin-pace combination of Kuldeep and Mohammad Shami, and surprisingly, both the batsmen had little difficulty in picking the left-arm wrist spinner.
Paul switched on to the attacking mode straight away, sweeping Kuldeep for two crisp boundaries. The 20-year-old was clearly the aggressor in the partnership but Chase too came up with a couple of good-looking shots. While Paul looked comfortable against Kuldeep, he found it difficult to get going against Umesh Yadav. It was the right-arm pacer who brought an end to the 73-run stand by dismissing Paul for 47 with a perfectly placed bouncer. Chase managed to bring up his sixth fifty but was soon knocked over by Ashwin’s flighted off-break that turned in viciously to create a big gap between bat and pad before crashing into the stumps. Chase hit eight fours in his 53-run knock.
Numbers 10 and 11 were easy meat for Ashwin who sent them back with the away turning ball and gave India a massive lead to play with. From there on it was always going to be a matter of time before the hosts wrapped up the first Test, and Kuldeep ensured it didn’t take India too long to get the job done.
The second and final Test will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad from October 12.