The Eden Gardens wicket is dry. There’s not a lot of turn yet, but there’s uneven bounce to help bowlers. The conditions hastened reverse swing. The stadium was packed. And it was in these conditions that the West Indies capitulated after electing to bat.
It was partly their poor shot selection, partly the work of Shami Ahmed who cranked his pace to the 140s and ran through the middle order with incisive reverse swing. Bowlers dictating the game was a sight for sore eyes after the batting excesses of the recent Australia ODIs.
Sachin Tendulkar, playing his 199th and penultimate Test match, held centre-stage all day and seized the first opportunity to make an impact. Minutes to go for tea, MS Dhoni summoned him from the relaxed environs of the boundaries to bowl the last over. Tendulkar, bowling leg-spin, struck straightaway when he trapped Shane Shillingford LBW with a faster delivery. It was just one more moment to remember him by.
SAMUELS, BRAVO ON THE ATTACK
Early in the day, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar removed Chris Gayle with a gorgeous out-swinger. It pitched perfectly, moved away just the right amount, hit the shoulder of the bat and flew at a nice, easy pace to second slip where Murali Vijay didn’t have to move an inch to catch it. It’s the dismissal new-ball bowlers dream of. Yet it didn’t all go India’s way in the morning session.
Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels delighted us with their inch-perfect footwork and aerial strokes against Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, making his Test comeback. As many as four sixes and 17 fours were hit in the morning session alone.
It started with Ashwin's first ball of the day. It ripped across Kieron Powell. The edge eluded first slip. That ball triggered a delightful counterattack from the Caribbean batsmen. Powell led the way, stepping out to Ashwin and hitting him for a six and a four.
Powell perished after mistiming a pull, giving Shami his first Test wicket. But Samuels and Bravo kept the pace up. Samuels tore into Ojha hitting him through cover and long-on for sixes. After that, it was Bravo’s turn to lift Ashwin over the ropes.
BALL CHANGE WORKS FOR SHAMI
West Indies went to lunch at an impressive 107-2. They came out with some more attacking shots to the spinners. But it soon went downhill for them once the ball, that had been disfigured, was changed.
In a few minutes, Shami played his hand in three dismissals. Samuels found his middle stump knocked back by a ball that tailed in sharply. Next over, Bravo ran himself out when he failed to see Shivnarine Chanderpaul napping at the other end. Shami effected the run-out with his throw from square leg. In Shami’s next over, Denesh Ramdin was beaten for pace as another reverse-swinging ball curved into his stumps.
Darren Sammy perished to an awful loft to long-off. Tendulkar took Shillingford. But it was Chanderpaul who continued to defy his favourite opponents over a steady 79-ball knock during which he was rarely perturbed by any bowler. When Ashwin sent him back with a ball that straightened up to hit the off-stump, India could finally breathe easy.
If there was anything that India could improve on, it was Dhoni's catching while standing up to spinners. Adding to his long list of misses, he put down two sharp ones off Ojha today.
BRIEF SCORES: West Indies 234 all out (S Ahmed 4-71; M Samuels 65); India 37-0.
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