Rohit, Ashwin put India in control

1ST TEST, DAY 2—West Indies fade away after inspired start as Rohit hits hundred on debut.

Rohit celebrates his hundred at the Eden Gardens.

Scores | Action in images | Farewell, Sachin | God at Eden

It was the sort of baton-passing moment you see only in films. The old veteran walked out of the park with the disappointment of a failure. In walked the young upstart with dreams in his eyes and the hope of making this occasion at the Eden Gardens one to remember. And what a fine job he did of it.

Rohit Sharma repaid the faith posed in him over the years with a delightful hundred on Test debut. It was an innings that had the steel of Dravid, the fire of Tendulkar and the silk of Laxman, all pointing to one thing only: it’s time for India to move on. Giving Rohit rock-steady company is Ravichandran Ashwin, in sight of his second Test hundred against the West Indies.

India were 83-5 early in the day, most of that damage inflicted by Shane Shillingford, the off-spinner that Sunil Gavaskar had written off as “Not Graeme Swann.” The lanky bowler with the somewhat jerky action belied all expectations to decimate the Indian top-order with his accurate off-spin. There was turn, dip and bounce, all of which India would be wary of if and when they bat again.

For now, India can bask in a fight-back led by two fine players who’ve pumped the lead up to 120 runs with a 198-run stand for the seventh wicket. Not bad for a slow, uneven wicket.

Shillingford decimated the Indian top-order.

SHILLINGFORD SHINES

The off-spinner began his day dismissing Shikhar Dhawan. The ball didn’t come on, stayed low and the left-hander played it on. Murali Vijay was done in by a beautiful doosra. Vijay had stepped out to defend it, but Shillingford saw him coming. The ball dipped on Vijay, bounced over his prod and Denesh Ramdin did the rest.

Then, the moment Eden Gardens had been waiting for. Tendulkar took his time to leave his seat in the dressing room. He arrived to the crease with thunderous applauses. Then, he had a long chat with Cheteshwar Pujara. The chat ended with a fist bump. Tendulkar was in no hurry. He was trying to build himself up for the moment. He then marked his guard, tapped his gear into place and finally faced up to Shillingford.

He began assuredly. Two firm, confident defences—one off the front foot, the other off the back—bookended two easy fours he whipped off Shillingford. Then, the fatal mistake. He played back to a slightly short ball. It was a doosra that hit him on the thigh. Umpire Nigel Llong decided it was good enough for the LBW. The Englishman copped abuses for it all day on Twitter.

Virat Kohli was caught at bat-pad, Pujara caught-behind trying to upper-cut a well-directed bouncer from debutant Sheldon Cotterrell. Was the impetuousness of one-day cricket the cause of their downfall?

Skipper MS Dhoni began the repairs with Rohit. But before their partnership acquired a menacing size, Dhoni was caught behind poking at a ball far outside his line of sight.

Ashwin is on the verge of another hundred.


ROHIT, ASHWIN FIGHT ON

It was to Shillingford’s disadvantage that he had little support from the other end. Veerasammy Permaul had no effect with his left-arm spinners while Tino Best and Cotterrell could not build any kind of pressure on Rohit, Dhoni and Ashwin.

By the evening session, Darren Sammy’s attack had been deflated. In the twilight, Rohit brought up his hundred with a streak wide of the slips. Tomorrow, Ashwin will eye his hundred. And when he does, it would be a fitting moment to say goodbye to the old guard and welcome this new one. They've earned it.

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