India vs West Indies 2016: Buffet bowling from the hosts on Days 1 and 2
The pitch was not as bad as it was made to look
As expected, Jason Holder took the second new ball before the start of the play on Day 2. He himself bowled the first over of the day and got one to rise up to Kohli. Though it was not at express pace, it was uncomfortable for Kohli.
Then came Gabriel, who had a brand new ball in his hand and what does he do? Bowl a full toss to the best batsman in the opposition. It was all downhill, barring a few exceptions, for the West Indies then onwards.
This cannot, by any measure, be termed as a pitch that did not offer anything to the fast bowlers. At least there was bounce and, as the Indian bowlers showed later in the day, there was some seam and swing too. Not to forget the limited amount of turn spinners were able to extract.
It was definitely not a pitch where stats such as mentioned below should all have happened in the same innings.
- 566 is India’s second highest score in an innings in West Indies and also the joint second highest in last 10 years in West Indies.
- Virat scored the first double against the West Indies in West Indies in last 10 years.
- The last time a captain scored a double here was way back in 1965.
- Ashwin is the only bowling all-rounder to score a century in West Indies in last 10 years.
- Amit Mishra got the only 50+ score by a number 8 in last 5 years.
- This is the first time after 1973 when three West Indian bowlers went wicketless in an innings after bowling 20 or more overs. Another Holder, Vanburn Holder, was a part of the trio back then. Captain Holder was part of the trio this time.
The stats are not enough to explain how extraordinarily ordinary test the West Indies have had in the field.
Strange tactics and poor overall performance in the field by West Indies
Holder’s tactics were baffling. Enough protection was not provided in the slips when the seamers were bowling with the new ball. When Kohli was reaching the double, Chase, a part-time off-spinning all-rounder, was bowling. Chase was reintroduced to bowl to the new batsman, Saha, when Kohli got out. It was a chaos.
Dowrich, who otherwise looked athletic behind the wickets, grassed a chance early in the day when Ashwin, on 43, edged one from Gabriel. Maybe he never expected a catch, or wanted to celebrate before he took it, or may be that the ball just moved a little just when he was about to pouch it.
West Indies lost the initiative early in the day and Ashwin added 70 more to his individual score.
Later in the day, Holder dropped one at mid-on. Chase chased one at mid-wicket and dropped. Carlos missed a difficult one at slips. There were fumbles when the batsmen were beaten, there were fumbles when they nicked it. And there were some more when the batsmen hit the ball of the middle of the bat.
Sleeping spectators and wickets after break
Everybody was resisting sleep, it seemed.
Spectators sleeping in the stands was a common scene throughout the day. A couple was sleeping resting on each other’s shoulders. An old fellow was calmly sleeping on his seat probably waiting for the yelps after a fall of wicket to wake him up.
A young man was sleeping occupying a few more seats than he had paid for. He could have had a stand all for himself if he wanted to. Such was the turn up for the test match.
If we had the stats for these kind of things, this would surely have been the case of highest percentage of spectators sleeping in the stands. As it is, there seemed to be more people on the field than off it. Who would you blame though after such a performance?
Speaking of sleep, at times, the Indian batsmen too were found sleeping just before or immediately after the break.
Virat Kohli, in this fine innings, drove a lot – on both sides, pulled a few, cut some, missed some too and then he kissed, the pitch, after becoming the first Indian captain to score a double century overseas. This was the first double for him in test cricket. The first double in first-class cricket. And I take the liberty to presume that the first double in gully cricket too.
He was awake. Well, almost, until a Shannon delivery did a little shenanigan just after the lunch whereas Kohli forgot to come fully forward to a delivery that stayed a tad low.
West Indies needs to show the will to fight
It would not be fair to compare these guys to the West Indies great fast bowlers in the past, from George John early in the 19th century to Marshal, Garner, Holding, Walsh, Ambrose, to name a few in the second half of 19th century.
According to Roddy Estwick, West Indies bowling coach, this is a young team who lost Roach and Taylor to retirement. It will take time.
Of course it will. But where is the will to fight? How do you teach that? West Indies selected a batting heavy composition, a move that Bishoo defended, that too after losing their two recent best test bowlers to retirement.
With one genuine fast and slow bowler each and with two other pacers bowling at a gentle medium pace of 127 kmph, who are also picked for their batting, alongside a couple of part-timers on a pitch that would probably need 8 days to finish 4 innings; it is hard to believe that the team is playing for a result.
It does not take a lot to show the will to win, to fight, to stand-up or, at least, to die fighting.
Viv Richards once got hit smack on the face with a bouncer, he got away from the pitch, spat and then pulled the next one into the crowd. Anil Kumble, the current India coach, came in to bowl with a broken jaw to trap Lara LBW in a draw. Graeme Smith came in to save a Test match and batted one-handed in a losing cause.
They all made statements. The same one. And that statement was “I’m here to fight”. Until I’m on this field, until there is any way I can contribute to the team’s cause, I’ll try to play to the best of my ability and, if required, beyond it.
It’s time, the teams lower in the test ranking step up. They have to start winning against good teams but before that they have to, at least, start losing respectfully.
Spineless bowling made things easy for India
There was nothing noticeable in the bowling besides the first hour of play on first day. This is a performance of a team short on confidence. A team that went to defensive tactics as soon as the first sign of trouble was visible.
On the first day, India was cautious in the first hour or so, then they stabilized the innings and made amends in the final session. On the second day though, they cashed in, then they cashed in and then they cashed in some more.
It was sad to see Sir Viv Richards, who termed Kumble’s heroics as the bravest thing he saw on a cricket field, witness such a pale performance from the fellow West Indians. It was a spineless display of shambolic bowling from the West Indies. The teeth, the nerves, the sinew and, unfortunately, the brain too was missing.
On the other hand, the same day, Pakistan was seen toiling all day at Manchester against England on the first day of the second test despite having a pretty ordinary day in the field. It looked like a team that believes a wicket is around the corner. It’s a performance of a team that has a win, and thus the belief, behind them.
And until West Indies get some wins under their belt, they are going to have to find the inspiration from somewhere else.
India are playing a test match after about 7 months. They have played a lot limited overs cricket, including IPL, coming in to this test series. This was chance for the West Indies, who were trying to find balance against a team that was trying to get into the groove for long test season ahead. A chance duly missed.
And when you serve it this good, this flat and this easy to players like Virat Kohli, they say “thank you” before gleefully accepting it to serve themselves a sumptuous double hundred.