The Indian spinners made up for the absence of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav – all rested – by dismissing WICB President’s XI for 180 on the opening day of their three-day fixture at Warner Park in Basseterre.
They accounted for eight wickets, with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja picking up three apiece. Amit Mishra claimed 2 for 45. The hosts then struck three blows in the final session, with the day drawing to a close after the fall of Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket for 28. The Indians were 93 for 3, with KL Rahul unbeaten on 30.
Rahkeem Cornwall, the Leeward Islands batsman, top scored with 41, even as Jadeja triggered a slide that resulted in the hosts slipping from 81 for 3 to 119 for 6. Jermaine Blackwood, named in West Indies’ squad of 13 for the first Test in Antigua, was the second-highest scorer with 36, while opener John Campbell made 34.
“We didn’t do our talent any justice by getting bowled out for 180,” Leon Johnson, the WICB President’s XI captain, said after the day’s play. “The pitch was two paced, there was some moisture in it early on. John (Campbell) played exceptionally well this morning until a rush of blood against Ashwin. He showed good composure, while Cornwall was his usual self, but overall we could have batted better.”
Fast bowler Shardul Thakur, one of four changes in the Indian XI – Stuart Binny, Ashwin and Jadeja being the others – dismissed Johnson in the eighth over after the hosts chose to bat. Campbell was the next to go when he was deceived in flight by Ashwin to be stumped by Wriddhiman Saha, and Binny removed Shai Hope, the centurion from the first tour game last week, shortly before lunch.
Jadeja picked up three wickets in the second session to leave the hosts precariously placed. The tailenders hung around for 8.3 overs, adding 37 for the last two wickets, before Ashwin wrapped up the innings in the 63rd over.
“I’m playing the longer format after a long time. Match fitness is important, and I wanted to bowl a long spell,” Jadeja said after the day’s play. “The way I was bowling, I felt I was getting into Test match mode. I didn’t want to experiment. There was slow turn and bounce, so I just wanted to land the ball in the right areas. Our bowling plan as a group was to eliminate the boundary ball, and not give away easy singles.”
Jadeja was confident of India’s spin trio delivering irrespective of conditions. “All three of us have different styles and we bowl at different speeds, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s tough for the batsmen to judge because we also bowl different lengths. West Indies will find it tough if tracks offer turn. We’ve done well at home together, so the plan will be to continue the same should we all play in the XI.”
Dawes and Chemar Holder, a member of West Indies’ Under-19 World Cup winning squad earlier this year, removed Shikhar Dhawan (9) and M Vijay (23) in consecutive overs after the openers saw off 10 overs. Pujara then contributed 28 in a 59-run stand before falling to Cornwall’s off-spin in the dying moments of play.
(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)