India vs West Indies 2016, 1st Test: Rating the Indian cricketers
Traditionally, Indian captains rarely opt to enter into the first Test of a series outside the subcontinent with as many as five specialist bowlers. However, Virat Kohli showed his intent to go all out for a result by stacking up the bowling department.
Eager to vindicate his decision, the star batsman took advantage of a true batting surface to lead from the front. Ably supported by all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, he enabled India to reach a commanding total of 566.
In a heartening moment, the Indian pacers finally shed their inconsistent approach and worked well in tandem to shred the West Indies batting lineup. Having enforced the follow-on, the situation was ripe for the spinners to get into the groove.
Ashwin seized the opportunity and ensured that India sealed their biggest Test win away from Asia. Let us take a closer look at how the Indian players chipped in to deliver a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Note: All ratings are done on a scale of ten.
Ravichandran Ashwin – 9.5
Before he embarked on this trip, there were question marks regarding Ashwin’s menace on non-conducive pitches away from the subcontinent. His exploits with the ball in the first innings did not do much to dispel those doubts.
But, the off-spinner stamped his authority in the second essay by weaving webs around the hapless West Indies batsmen. Figures of 7/83 from 25 overs suggested that he had turned a corner. As a batsman, Ashwin shone brightly with a sumptuous century to enhance credentials of being a Test quality all-rounder.
Virat Kohli – 9.5
Ambitious and non-compromising, Kohli's attacking nature was on display right from the outset. Acknowledging the responsibility on him to play a longer innings, he settled in nicely by relying on his instincts.
The right-hander punished loose deliveries relentlessly to notch up a maiden double century which left even the great Viv Richards impressed. Tellingly, no Indian captain had scored a double century away from home, before this match.
Mohammed Shami – 8
Coming back from a lengthy injury lay-off has been one of the most challenging tasks for any fast bowler. But, Mohammed Shami seemed unperturbed with the occasion and found his rhythm quite early in the contest.
The quickest bowler on show utilized the bounce available on the pitch by targeting the back of length area relentlessly. He demolished the top-order with a searing spell in the first innings to set up the match for India.
Umesh Yadav – 7.5
Outside their comfort zone, the Indians have often found that knocking over the opposition lower-order could be frustratingly hard. Time and again, plenty of games were snatched away from their hands by non-specialist batsmen.
However, Umesh Yadav would have none of it. Employing stifling lines, he pushed them back with his sharp pace. Aside from a four-wicket haul in the primary essay, the speedster also sent back the dangerous Darren Bravo in the subsequent innings.
Shikhar Dhawan – 7.5
Having arrived into the Test amidst doubts surround his place in the playing eleven, Dhawan showed character to negotiate a fresh West Indies attack on the opening morning. Useful partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli steadied the Indian ship after the fall of an early wicket.
The notable aspect of Dhawan’s batting was a slightly more restrained attitude towards the new-ball. Once he grew in confidence, the boundaries began to flow from his bat.
Amit Mishra – 7.5
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Anil Kumble’s appointment as Indian coach could be fellow leg-spinner Amit Mishra. With Ravindra Jadeja competing for the second spinner slot, he had to be on the top of his game.
Coming into bat with already a massive total on board, Mishra aggravated the home side’s woes. Even though he obtained only three wickets across both innings, the experienced bowler did not offer any let-up.
Wriddhiman Saha – 7
Undoubtedly, the finest wicket-keeper in the country, Saha did his reputation no harm with another assured performance. Comfortable against both bounce and turn, the 31-year old demonstrated nimble footwork behind the stumps.
With the team in need of quick runs, he contributed a neat 40 as well.
Ishant Sharma – 6.5
The scoreboard alone might not show Ishant’s worth to the bowling department. Handling the duties of being the senior most fast bowler in the camp, he sustained the pressure by not shying away from the holding role. The full in-swinger to dismiss Kraigg Brathwaite also showed glimpses of a possible change from his favored shorter length.
Ajinkya Rahane – 5
Perhaps the most versatile Test batsman in the team, Rahane disappointed by suffering an uncharacteristic brain fade when confronted with a rank long hop from Devendra Bishoo. But going by the remarkable effort to dismiss Darren Bravo, his slip-catching continued to be reliable.
Cheteshwar Pujara – 3.5
A technically sound batsman at number three, Pujara began well by seeing off the new-ball threat. When it seemed like he would kick on and make a huge score, another long hop from Bishoo ended his vigil.
Murali Vijay – 3
Leaving aside the short stay at the crease, a bigger concern regarding Vijay would be his fitness. Rising acutely without any sign, a snorter from Shannon Gabriel jarred into his gloves which meant that he could not take the field for most of the match.