The spineless display by West Indies killed the charm of Test cricket at Rajkot……
Test cricket on alien soil is not an easy task for any side; it’s a different ball game altogether, but an international side cannot afford to lose in a disheartening manner. It is comprehensible when a team gets bowled out under 200 in a Test match when the surface is a minefield, where bowlers make the ball talk. But not being able to play 100 overs in both the innings combined on a surface, which is conducive for batting, raises some serious questions.
West Indies lost the opening encounter of the series against India by a massive margin of an innings and 272 runs. The team failed to put up a fight against the top-ranked side and suffered a tragic defeat. The fact that there was absolutely no resistance from West Indies on a batting-friendly wicket while Indian batsmen feasted on it is worrisome. They could have certainly done a lot better, but the team failed to click on a whole.
This was India’s biggest Test win; the previous best came against Afghanistan earlier this year by an innings and 262 runs. India scalped 20 West Indies’ wickets inside 100 overs and had no trouble whatsoever in registering an emphatic win. The pitch was no less than a paradise for batsmen; an ideal surface to garner some big runs.
West Indies were without the services of Kemar Roach and Jason Holder. The absence of two well-established bowlers was always going to be a challenge for the inexperienced West Indies side, but this cannot deny the fact that their bowlers were ordinary. On several occasions, they didn’t bowl according to the field provided to them. India scored at a very good run-rate; a team just cannot allow the opposition to score at such a brisk run-rate. This speaks about the kind of ineffectiveness their bowler had.
Although Rajkot has a reputation of being one of the flattest wickets in the country, but leaking runs in this fashion is just atrocious. Shannon Gabriel did well to draw the first blood in the form of KL Rahu, but there was nothing of substance from the bowlers after that dismissal.
The kind of pressure a debutant goes through in his maiden outing is well-known, but Prithvi Shaw had no trouble in belting big runs. He scored runs with ease and faced no trouble whatsoever in getting the ball rolling from the outset at Rajkot. He scored 134 off 154 with the help of 19 boundaries and took full advantage of West Indies’ not so effective bowling. In saying so, no credit is being taken away from Shaw’s brilliance, but West Indies bowlers didn’t pose any threat at all.
Virat Kohli continued his good form while Pujara and Pant also garnered much-needed runs. Ravindra Jadeja entertained the home crowd with his maiden Test ton as he steered India to a dominating position. India declared at 649 for 9 and it was show time for West Indies.
The batting fumbled dramatically in the first innings with the highest-scorer being Roston Chase with a tenacious 53. India imposed the follow-on and second innings was no different. They managed just 15 more runs from their first innings total and handed India their biggest Test win. Barring Kieran Powell, who scored a brisk 83, no other West Indies batsmen looked threatening at all.
West Indies were coming fresh from a series win against Bangladesh at home, they had found the momentum after a very long time and just cannot afford to let it go. The budding side was never expected to win a Test against the top-ranked side in their own den, but they could have certainly done better.
Indian batsmen piled massive runs on the board in the only innings they batted; their batsmen exploited the batting conditions brutally as three of them went on to score centuries. What West Indies needed was to build an innings with immense hard work and try to get as close as possible to India’s total. At times, aggression works, a team can fight fire with fire; but this was too big a total for West Indies to come out hard. They needed to show some patience and temperament; most of their batsmen played too aggressively and ended throwing their wickets away. The fact that just six West Indies’ wickets in both the innings had fallen while defending is baffling in a Test match.
West Indies have one more chance to make a comeback in the final Test, but the task looks impossible as of now. They have a huge mental barrier to overcome and India won’t be an easy nut to crack. A whitewash looks imminent unless West Indies spring a surprise, which they are quite capable of. They are a rebuilding side and defeats like this will not help them at all. They could have done much better than what they eventually did.
Not a victory, but some fight at least is what their most loyal fans would be expecting from the Caribbean giants in the final game. It will help them carry the momentum in shorter formats. Speaking about Rajkot, this was a completely spineless display that team would want to get over as early as possible.