Even before taking the field in the first Test, West Indies looked a team beaten. The team selection smacked of desperation to draw rather than win or show the intent to fight. By picking part-time spinner Roston Chase to debut in this match, West Indies have tried to extend their batting. But by doing that West Indies not only gave themselves fewer wicket-taking options, they also became a tired bowling unit earlier than expected.
Their best show was in the first session even though they got just one breakthrough in the form of Murali Vijay. Shannon Gabriel’s first spell in tandem with captain Jason Holder’s probing bowling gave West Indies hope of inflicting some damage on India. But once the ball became old and soft, they started playing the waiting game. India pounced on that opportunity. The fact that the third session was the most productive for India is indicative of how short of ideas West Indies were by that time. Not taking the second new ball was also indicative of their reluctance to give the set Virat Kohli easy runs. Legs were tired and by the time the third session had started, West Indies were just going through the motion hoping for something to happen.
In both pace and spin, West Indies don’t have much flair to exploit. Devendra Bishoo might have taken three wickets but it could have easily been a different tale had Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane not thrown away their starts. Holder also perhaps sent out the wrong message by giving part-timer Chase the ball ahead of the specialist Bishoo.
Bishoo didn’t mind though. “I wasn’t surprised. Chase and I are different bowlers and the ball was newer. It was ideal to go with him first,” he said. That Chase will feature in future plans was also made adequately by Bishoo. “He’s more of a part-time off-spinner. But he’s going to be bowling a lot of overs,” he said. But Bishoo admitted they weren’t as effective as they would have wanted to. “I think Shannon bowled really good up front today and he started off very well. He bowled with great pace. The rest of the bowlers bowled well in patches. We need to be a bit more patient because the wicket is good,” he said.
Given India are already in the driver’s seat by scoring 302 on the first day, patience is a virtue that could come at a cost for West Indies. Ideally, India would be looking to bat once in this match. And that possibility was more or less confirmed when Shikhar Dhawan said at the end of the day he was hoping Kohli would go on to make a double century if not more. If that happens, West Indies could be faced with the challenge of batting out time. They may have packed their team with batsmen but against a quality Indian bowling line-up it could be a task tougher than it looks.