India wrapped up the Rajkot Test within three days, ambushing the Windies by an innings and 272 runs, making it their biggest margin of victory by an innings in Test cricket. With Windies already down by six wickets in the first innings at the beginning of day three, the Indians cleaned up the remaining four in quick time and then enforced the follow-on to finish the visitors one more time. Here is our report card from the lop-sided contest at Rajkot.
The 18-year old cut all the hype around his debut, conquered his inner demons and smashed a 99-ball ton to kick-start his journey in Test cricket. Shaw was on the offensive from the word go and took full toll of a lacklustre Windies bowling attack to race to a terrific hundred. The young Mumbaikar virtually stamped down his place at the top of the order for the upcoming Australian tour with this knock.
Preparing for the tour Down Under, Virat Kohli got into groove with a casual stroll through the Rajkot ground, slamming a 24th Test ton in the process. With the Windies attack lacking teeth, Kohli had little trouble finding form and plummeted the attack in characteristic fashion. He used his bowlers cleverly when the Windies were batting and ensured that everything was in place for the Test to end in three days.
With Shaw going strong at one end, Cheteshwar Pujara upped the ante to ridicule the ruckus surrounding his lack of “intent”. Contrary to his usual style, Pujara looked to score after settling down and his final few runs came at almost run-a-ball. However, with a century within his sights, the Saurashtra batsman on his home ground, threw his wicket away with an untimely poke.
After nine years of international cricket, Jadeja, with three triple hundreds in First-class cricket, hit his maiden Test century. Walking in at No 7 and looking to book the sole spinner’s slot in the side ahead of Ashwin and Kuldeep for Australia, Jadeja raced to his ton in no time. He grabbed a few wickets with the ball and effected a run-out in the first essay to complete an all-round performance.
Coming off the back of a Test century at The Oval, Rishabh Pant stuck into Windies’ hapless bowlers with a flurry of boundaries. The wicket-keeper batsman appeared all set to complete another hundred but threw it away on 92. He dropped a couple of chances behind the stumps which prevented him from the topping the charts.
Ashwin was his usual tidy self with the ball, cramping batsmen for room and generating turn out of the surface. He cleaned up Shai Hope in the first innings and added three more to finish with 4/37 and in the second essay opened the attack to get rid of Kraigg Brathwaite early.
Kuldeep was tonked around for fun in the first innings by Keemo Paul and Roston Chase early on Day 3. He conceded 62 off his 10 overs in the first innings, a performance that was appalling given how India were dominating. The chinaman bowler was guilty of bowling too full but was quick to make amends in the second innings. He scythed through the Windies middle-order to finish with a maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Settling into a familiar firefighting role, Chase was the only West Indian to offer some kind of resistance against the Indian bowlers. The middle-order batsman, who has a terrific record on slower wickets, was the only visiting batsman to score a half-century in the first innings, taking the Windies to a score of respectability. He was decent with the ball in the first innings and accounted for Ajinkya Rahane. In his second outing with the bat, Chase was more positive but fell to Kuldeep before he could make a profound mark.
With nothing to lose while following on, Kieran Powell took on the Indian spinners and raced to a half-century at almost run-a-ball. With the Windies staring down the abyss at the beginning of the second innings, Powell instilled some belief with a belligerent knock where he showed good intent and held his own against the trio of spinners. He was dismissed 17 short of a ton by Kuldeep.
Even if the spinners stole 16 of the 20 wickets to fall, Mohammed Shami was the one who started it all when he dismissed the Windies openers off consecutive overs in the first innings. Shami was right on the money from the word go and cleaned up Brathwaite in his second over of the Test. The very next over he added one more to his kitty by sending back Powell.
Gabriel was the only Windies bowler to pose some kind of threat to India’s batsmen on a flat wicket. Generating extra zip off the surface, Gabriel made life difficult for the Indians with his disconcerting pace and bounce. He removed KL Rahul for a duck in the very first over of the Test but with lack of support from the other end, Gabriel struggled for consistency.
Conceding over 200 runs in the innings, Bishoo was smashed around Rajkot for fun by the wristy Indian batsmen. The leg-spinner, who had played a key role in Windies’ victory over Pakistan in UAE a couple of years back, struggled to maintain his consistency against some positive batting. He did add four wickets to his tally but it came at a time India were looking to accelerate further without a care in the world for wickets falling.
On his Test debut, Sherman Lewis was wayward in line and length and contributed to Windies’ horrendous show. With Gabriel yearning for some support from the other end, Lewis struggled to find his rhythm and leaked runs. To his credit, the debutant returned to send back Pujara and Kohli. His debut got better as the innings wore on and Lewis will look to take heart from the big wickets he managed to pick.
With the spinners doing the bulk of the work, Umesh Yadav, fighting for a place in the side ahead of a tough Australian tour, had little to do. He bowled just 14 overs across both innings’ and although he did little wrong, Umesh’s performative had nothing to write home about. With the second Test also expected to be along similar lines, the seamer will want to ensure he strikes early and makes a mark.
Paul was inconsistent with his channels and his early spell proved to be fodder for a pumped up Shaw. Gabriel had gotten rid of Rahul early and the Windies needed Paul to play a holding role similar to Jason Holder. Instead he sprayed the ball around and let India get on top of him. To his credit, he slogged around with the bat to rack up 47 off 49 balls, including two sixes, to take Windies to a decent first innings total.
With Karun Nair and Hanuma Vihari breathing down his neck ahead of the Australian tour, Rahane was under pressure to perform in this Test match. His home record was never too good and although Rahane started off well, he was dismissed on 41 by Chase’s innocuous off-spin. He was the only Indian batsmen, aside from Rahul, in the top seven to not score a half-century.
Brathwaite was expected to soak up pressure at the top of the order and carry Windies’ batting on the tricky Indian wickets. With a reputation of batting long, Brathwaite was among the few Windies banked on, but the opener disappointed with two poor knocks. He will hope to make a bigger impact with the bat in the second Test match.
Hope has done very little after his back-to-back tons in England in mid-2017. A flamboyant batsman with a penchant for counter-attacking, Hope is constantly backed in the Windies middle-order but he has failed to live up to the hype. At Rajkot, the No 3 batsman struggled against India’s spinners and was dismissed for 10 and 17 in the two innings.
With Holder absent, the onus was on Chase and Dowrich to carry Windies’ lower middle-order. While Chase did his part with a hard-earned half-century, Dowrich went missing. The wicket-keeper batsman remained unbeaten in the second outing after a horrible shot in the first innings but could only watch as the Windies folded to an innings defeat.
The Indian opener was dismissed for a duck in the first over and was the only batsman in the top seven to not make an impact. He failed to cope with Gabriel’s extra pace and was trapped in front of the wicket before India’s innings had even gotten under way. It made it the eighth successive time that Rahul was dismissed bowled or lbw in Tests, a trend that began at Lord’s in the second Test against England.
With his side in shambles as he walked out to bat in the first innings, Ambris swung carelessly at a Jadeja delivery to edge to the slip cordon. He appeared equally clueless in the second, stepping out to Kuldeep without reading the chinaman bowler, only to be stumped for a duck.
The West Indian middle-order batsman was careless in the first innings and ran himself out with the side already in strife. His Test never got better as he aimlessly slogged in the second essay against Kuldeep to gift a catch to backward point.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor