For the first time in two tours of India, West Indies finally made India take the second new ball. Well into their third innings of this series, West Indies finally found a method to bat. Not surprisingly Roston Chase, who helped them save a Test against India in the West Indies, led the way, with the returning captain Jason Holder making the second-biggest contribution. The two added 104 for the seventh wicket to take West Indies to 295 for 7 at stumps, their first score of 250 in four Tests in India, all played in good batting conditions.
Chase and Holder – and briefly Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich – showed faith in their defence, which showed they finally batted normally: keep the good balls out, look to alternate strike and punish the bad balls. Before that, batsmen unsure of their defence, unable to read Kuldeep Yadav out of his hand, batted in a much more predetermined way: either ultra-aggressive or ultra-defensive irrespective of the kind of bowling. A simple contrast showed in how they took 84 singles in this innings as against 73 in both the innings put together in Rajkot. Only 30 of Chase’s unbeaten 98 runs came in boundaries.
It didn’t start that well for them. Well, for a brief while it did. Holder was back, the toss was won, Umesh Yadav was loose, debutant Shardul Thakur hobbled off with a groin injury, and West Indies were off to a flier. However, Kieran Powell, Shimron Hetmyer and Sunil Ambris failed to make use of good batting conditions. They were up against a good bowling attack, but they didn’t make them bowl enough good balls.
Powell attacked almost everything eventually getting beaten in the flight and still going through with an aerial shot against Ashwin, who bowled a tight spell of 10.2 overs with the new ball for just seven runs.
That control gave Kuldeep Yadav the freedom to go through his bag of tricks. When you are not picking his wrong ‘un and the other bowler is not giving away anything, you don’t stand much chance against a wristspinner with variations.
After scoring eight runs in the first over, Brathwaite had added six off a further 60 balls when Kuldeep slipped in a wrong ‘un. Brathwaite didn’t pick it out of the hand, and edged it safely. The next one was the stock ball, turning back in, but Brathwaite’s uncertain bat stayed outside its line, setting up a plumb lbw. Hetmyer didn’t even make Kuldeep go to the second part of his trick as he padded up to a wrong ‘un, leaving the umpire with an easy lbw decision. Ambris was even more shaky, and tried to hit out, offering cover an easy catch off a wrong ‘un.
At 113 for 5, West Indies were staring at another quick end to their innings. Chase and Dowrich, though, trusted themselves to bat the normal way. The singles started to come as did the bad balls. They added 69, but as he had done with a settled Shai Hope before lunch, Umesh came back to get rid of Dowrich just before tea. Umesh, again, showed he was much more comfortable bowling with the old ball, reversing it in towards the middle stump, trapping both of them lbw in their 30s.
Chase, at the other end, was well embedded by now. The first time India managed to beat him, to draw a false shot out of him, was when Umesh reversed one past his inside edge. Chase was 50 off 80 balls at that time. Even this ball did managed to sneak past because it swung too much and would have missed the leg stump. He ended the day with a 94% control rate. Holder provided him excellent support at the other end. Both used their reach to smother balls, and were equally quick to rock back if the spinners lowered the trajectory.
As the partnership went past 100 and stumps approached, there was faint hope that West Indies could be competitive in this Test if they could come back and bat another session on the second morning. Umesh had other ideas. About six overs before stumps, he got Holder caught down the leg side with a bouncer. After all the optimism around Chase’s batting, this was reminder West Indies were in all probability headed for another underwhelming total against a side that crossed 600 in their last innings in these conditions. (ESPNCricinfo)