On the face of it, this is a five-day Test match. First day morning session on a bouncy and turning Sabina Park pitch though was a no holds barred boxing round. Not willing to concede an inch, both West Indies and India dealt blows at each other. Some connected, some didn’t. But it made for one entertaining session that promised more to come.
The scoreboard said West Indies were 88/4 at lunch but given how India had punched holes in their top order by reducing them to 7/3, this was one of the most remarkable comebacks staged by West Indies in recent history. Had it not been for Jermaine Blackwood’s wicket though, West Indies could have returned to the dressing home feeling pretty good about how they fought back.
The ‘no risk no gain’ policy adopted by West Indies though could have easily been avoided had captain Jason Holder not chosen to bat. Knowing full well that there would be bounce and pace in the first session, Holder still decided against putting India to bat despite including pacer Miguel Cummins for Carlos Brathwaite.
His openers paid the price for it. First to go was Kraigg Brathwaite in dismissal planned and executed perfectly. Ishant Sharma crumpled him up with a bouncer aimed at his ribs, almost prodding Brathwaite to fend it to Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg.
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Darren Bravo’s dismal series form continued when he got out to the very next delivery from Sharma who was breathing fire from his first over. Anticipating a short one, Bravo was tempted to tickle a fuller delivery bowled wide. The ball flew to Virat Kohli at second slip. Three overs later, when Rajendra Chandrika needlessly poked at a Mohammad Shami delivery that was leaving him, West Indies looked seriously chastised for choosing to bat.
But then started a counterattack thrilling not just in terms of the scoring rate but also because of the audacity shown by Blackwood. He started off a bit reckless, throwing his bat at Shami’s leaving delivery to get his first boundary past over point.
Then Shami’s bouncer flew off his top-edge. Against Sharma though, Blackwood found his feet. Starting off with a glanced boundary, Blackwood stunned Sharma in the 11th over by smashing a wide delivery for four without moving his feet. Then came a flat six over Sharma’s head that left even Kohli dismayed. Amit Mishra had a chance to catch Blackwood’s edge in the same over but it was always a long shot.
By the time Blackwood danced down the pitch to hit R Ashwin for a six, the momentum had suddenly been seized by West Indies. He repeated the feat twice against Mishra but Ashwin exacted his revenge when he struck in the last over before lunch, trapping him leg-before.