Persistent rain spoiled a good start by India in the first session of the fourth Test here on Thursday. Electing to bat, West Indies were 62/2 in 22 overs when heavy rain intervened just before lunch.
Given their generally lackadaisical approach towards scoring throughout the series, West Indies might just take this start. Kraigg Brathwaite, by far their most assuring batsman in this series, was unbeaten on 32. He was partnered by Marlon Samuels, who has been copping a lot of criticism lately, on 10.
India however would be disappointed they couldn’t add one more wicket to the tally. With the ball showing some lateral movement, Bhuvneshwar Kumar induced a slight edge off Brathwaite’s bat in the last ball of the third over. The ball flew to the left of Virat Kohli at second slip but he was probably a second late in reacting to the catch.
Apart from that dropped catch, this was probably the first time West Indies had a relatively low key time facing spells with the new ball. A big reason behind that was the pitch at Queen’s Park Oval that stayed slow and showed lack of bounce. With his first ball of the Test though, Ishant Sharma showed why he continues to be a force against the West Indies. A short of length delivery aimed at Leon Johnson’s ribs, it forced the opener to go back on his stance and fend at it hard, ballooning it to short-leg where Rohit Sharma caught it.
Ashwin was introduced in the next over and was straightaway hit for a boundary by Brathwaite who pounced on a tossed-up ball to drive it past cover. Darren Bravo too got a boundary in Ashwin’s next over when he lifted him over mid-on. But such has been the confidence of Ashwin this series that he came up with a better delivery to dismiss Bravo very next ball.
There was drift, there was turn. Bravo covered his middle and leg stumps and tried to defend what he thought would be a straighter ball. The ball however spun past his bat to hit the top of his off stump. Ashwin’s comeback was quick but this will be the first time he might feel the pinch without a spin bowling partner.
Always an advocate of the five bowler theory, Kohli surprised many with the team selection. On a pitch tipped to turn from the first day, the India captain dropped Ravindra Jadeja to accommodate Cheteshwar Pujara. The other change was in the form of Murali Vijay who replaced Shikhar Dhawan.
The early turn shows spinners will play a key role in this Test match, which is perhaps why West Indies captain Jason Holder dropped Joseph Alzarri in favour of Devendra Bishoo. Bishoo will also have the support of Brathwaite and Roston Chase, who has a five-wicket haul. India however have very few slow bowling options.