As impressive as India were in the first Test or the way they bowled out West Indies for a paltry score in the first innings of the second Test, they seem to be facing a roadblock when it comes to dismissing the last five batsmen. In the first innings in Antigua, West Indies were 92/5 before opener Kraigg Brathwaite held the lower order to take them to 243.
Brathwaite scored 74 but the damage was done by Shane Dowrich, who scored an unbeaten 57, Jason Holder’s 36 and Roston Chase’s 23. In the second innings, the top five West Indies batsmen were back with just 101 on the board but then an unbeaten 51 by Carlos Brathwaite --- at No.9 --- and 45 from Devendra Bishoo --- at No.10 --- frustrated India.
The trend only continued in the second Test. The first five batsmen made 81 out of the total of 196 put up by West Indies before Chase (137 no), Dowrich (74) and Holder (64no) derailed India’s hopes of a massive win in Jamaica. Rain interruptions were a big reason behind West Indies’ survival but India also looked out of ideas after the first few bursts from Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
Coach Anil Kumble was keen on taking the West Indies batting as a sum of everything and not just the top order. “There’s nothing as tail or top order. You try and put together a plan for every batsman. You try and execute that,” he said before admitting that not being able to take wickets down the order need to be addressed.
“What we have done really well is knock the top off really quickly. That is certainly something we will discuss, as to how we get the last three or four. At the end of it, it’s about picking 20 wickets. I’m very happy with the effort put in by our bowlers,” he said. While India’s bowlers ran through the top order, once the ball was old on a pitch that flattened out, they seemed to lack ideas or a fall back plan. Amit Mishra looked especially out of ideas as he continued to drop it short or too full, allowing West Indies to score quickly and get out of jail.
After the setback in Jamaica, India could go back to the drawing board in St Lucia and even change their team. But that will depend entirely on what kind of pitch they get for the St Lucia Test starting on Tuesday. “Once we get there and look at the pitch we will decide what kind of approach to take,” Kumble had said.
Intermittent rain however didn’t allow India to train on Saturday. With just two days to go for the third Test, India have a lot to work on but little time in hand.