After a century that buttressed India’s first innings, R Ashwin took seven wickets to send West Indies spiraling to an innings defeat in the first Test here on Sunday. This is India’s first innings victory in West Indies and their biggest outside Asia. Devendra Bishoo and Carlos Brathwaite stitched a defiant 95-run partnership for the ninth wicket, their highest in this match, but only that couldn’t have saved the hosts from a crushing victory.
Ashwin, who went wicketless in the first innings, found guile and spin at the right time to befuddle West Indies from the second session. Till lunch, taken early due to a dash of rain, opener Rajendra Chandrika and Marlon Samuels gave hope to West Indies by not being spectators and actually playing shots. Umesh Yadav took the wicket of Darren Bravo in the first over of the morning session before Samuels joined Chandrika for a 67-run stand.
Set up by a couple of deliveries that swung in, Bravo fell after Yadav induced a thick edge that Ajinkya Rahane brilliantly caught in the slip cordon. Mohammed Shami too could have got a wicket in his first over when Samuels hung out his bat to a ball that straightened and seemed to touch his glove on its way to the Saha. It was a low catch that Saha claimed straightaway but Samuels got the benefit due to lack of clear replays.
Samuels however wasn’t going to sit around. He churned out some attractive drives through covers and didn’t allow Ashwin to settle down at first. And when it was time to face Amit Mishra, he lifted him over his head for a boundary through long-on to raise a characteristically flamboyant half-century. Before that Chandrika looked much more decisive with his shots as he looked to drive anything that came on to his pads.
But his 108-ball innings finally came to an end after Saha took a catch off Ashwin after a little fumble. The ball spun and bounced but having already decided to come down the pitch, Chandrika found himself stuck in no man’s land. Replays looked inconclusive but going by the umpire’s decision, the ball might have taken an inside edge before taking a ricochet off the inside of the pad and going through to Saha.
That dismissal signaled the arrival of Ashwin who had by then not only started turning the ball but also got bounce. West Indies batsmen started taking their chances against him, hoping something would come off it. It only helped India’s cause. Jermaine Blackwood cast serious doubt on his place after getting a pair in this Test. Batting at a crucial position like No.5, Blackwood displayed sloppy judgment on both occasions. Thinking he could read Ashwin’s flight and drive him through on, Blackwood only managed a flick that went to Kohli parked at short midwicket.
But coup de grace was how Samuels was hoodwinked by Ashwin. Thinking that he had his stumps covered by leaning forward, Samuels saw the ball pitch just behind his bat and turn in to disturb his stumps. Ashwin quickly disposed off Roston Chase before Mishra trapped Shane Dowrich leg-before. Captain Jason Holder too offered some resistance but quickly ran out of patience against Ashwin who got his first five-wicket haul outside Asia with a tossed up delivery that beat Holder’s attempted drive.
Then followed a frustrating period for India where Bishoo and Carlos Brathwaite made them wait for 24.1 overs as they took a crack at all the bowlers except Mohammed Shami who was last bowled in the 35th over. Mishra almost got Bishoo in the 75th over when his edge came off Wriddhiman Saha’s glove towards Rahane at first slip but he had already moved to his right by then. The wait finally ended when Bishoo became too ambitious after sweeping Ashwin for four. Seeing a tossed up the ball, Bishoo struck it straight to Pujara at midwicket. After that it required Ashwin two more deliveries to clean up Shannon Gabriel.