Kolkata, Nov 6 (IANS) Pacer Mohammad Shami made a dream debut on his home ground picking up four wickets to enable India skittle the West Indies out for 234 on day one of their first Test at the Eden Gardens here Wednesday.
At stumps, India were 37 for no loss, with Shikhar Dhawan (21; 27 b, 4x4) and Murali Vijay (16; 45 b, 2x4) in the middle on a slow wicket where the odd balls kept low while some rose appreciably.
Despite much hype ahead of the game, the half-filled stands belied hopes of a full house to honour batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar on his penultimate Test match at the iconic ground.
The 23-year-old Shami sent down quickish stuff, and gave a delightful exhibition of swing bowling to finish with figures of 4/71 besides playing his hand in a run out, to grab the spotlight from Tendulkar, albeit temporarily. His figures were the best by an Indian bowler on debut at the Eden Gardens.
Tendulkar, appearing in his 199th Test match, also drew applause from the 33,000-strong crowd for taking the wicket of Shane Shillingford at the stroke of tea.
Opting to bat on a wicket which their captain Darren Sammy thought was "tricky", the West Indies saw their middle order give way in the post-lunch session as five wickets went down with the addition of just 54 runs. From 138/2, the Caribbeans slumped to 192/7.
Shami bowled with control, and became particularly lethal in the post-lunch session with the umpires replacing the ball after 40 overs. The fresh leather aided reverse swing, and Shami utilised the conditions to the maximum by getting rid of the dangerous looking Marlon Samuels (65; 98 b, 11x4, 2x6) - the top scorer - and Denesh Ramdin (4) with two excellent deliveries.
In the morning, the visitors lost openers Chris Gayle (18) and Kieron Powell (28; 5x4, 1x6), by the first drinks break, before Samuels and Darren Bravo (23; 96 b, 2x4, 1x6) stitched together a 91-run third wicket stand.
The destructive Gayle nudged at a Bhuvaneshwar Kumar delivery outside the off stump and the thick edge was accepted by Vijay at second slip, while Powell gave Shami his first Test wicket when an attempted pull finished as a top edge to Kumar. The visitors were 10/2 at lunch.
Samuels completed his 19th half century in 47 Tests in the second over after lunch with a single, but found himself in discomfort against Shami whose third spell read 7-0-30-2. Samuels got a life at 60, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni dropped a catch, Pragyan Ojha being the unlucky bowler.
But the lapse did not prove costly, and Shami devoured Samuels with a quicker stuff, that pitched on a length, jagged back and went through the gate to uproot the batsman's middle stump.
The Caribbeans suffered another jolt soon after, as Bravo played offie Ravinchandran Ashwin to the square leg region, and set out for an improbable run. His partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul did not respond, and Shami threw to Dhoni to do the rest.
Shami delivered one more blow in his next over. Ramdin had no answer to an unplayable ball, that pitched on length and swung back sharply that beat the batsman and knocked out the off-stump. Losing three wickets in the space of ten balls, the tourists were struggling at 143/5.
The Caribbeans were further reduced to 172/6, when skipper Darren Sammy (16) virtually committed suicide as he tried to loft a turning ball from Pragyan Ojha, and the mis-hit ended in the hands of Kumar.
Almost at the stroke of tea, skipper Dhoni handed the ball to Tendulkar, who foxed Shillignford with a flighted delivery that dipped on the right hander and hit him plumb in front.
Post tea, Chanderpaul played grittily and helped his side cross 200, before Aswhin saw the back of Veerasammy Permaul (14).
Ashwin finally ended Chanderpaul's resistance with a fastish delivery which the veteran of 149 Tests could not read. Shami brought the Caribbean innings to a close by getting debutant Sheldon Cottrell (0) out.
The day saw three debuts. Apart from Shami, Rohit Sharma played his maiden Test, getting the cap from Tendulkar, and becoming the first cricketer to make his debut after playing 100 One-Day Internationals. Cotterel was included in the West Indies playing side as Kemar Roach was unfit because of a shoulder problem.