KOLKATA, India – Off-spinner Shane Shillingford snatched a four-wicket haul but Rohit Sharma struck a century on debut to put India in control of the opening Test against West Indies at
Eden Gardens here today.
Resuming the second day on 37 without loss, India slumped to 83 for five before lunch with Shillingford doing the majority of the damage en route to finishing with four for 130 runs from a marathon 41 overs.
However, Rohit continued his recent excellent form, stroking 127 not out to pull India out of trouble and guide them to 354 for six – a lead of 120.
Rohit, who scored heavily in the recent One-Day International series against Australia, stole the show from Sachin Tendulkar, facing 228 balls and striking 16 fours and one six.
He has so far added a superb 198 for the seventh wicket with Ravi Ashwin who was unbeaten on 92 from 148 balls with ten fours.
Rohit also posted a valuable 73 for the sixth wicket with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who scored 42.
Replying to the tourists 234 all out, India looked in serious trouble when they slumped to 83 for five, as Shillingford wiped out their top order with excellent spin bowling.
Rohit, however, who had played in 108 One-Dayers and 36 Twenty20 fixtures for his country before finally getting his chance in the longest form of the game, led a superb recovery, firstly in alliance with Dhoni before then combining with Ashwin.
Incidentally, he arrived at the crease to replace Tendulkar who was failed with just ten. The Little Master will have to hope for a second chance to mark his farewell from Kolkata with a three-figure score after Shillingford trapped him leg before wicket.
The veteran batsman – who will retire after the second Test in the series – could perhaps feel a little aggrieved at the decision, with the slow bowler’s doosra striking him on the thigh as he was caught on the crease.
The wicket left the score at 82 for four and India had only added another run before Virat Kohli became the latest victim for Shillingford, Kieran Powell taking the catch to dismiss the right-hander for three close-in on the leg side.
India had begun the morning session on 37 without loss but suffered an early blow when left-hander Shikhar Dhawan was bowled off an inside edge for 23.
Opening partner Murali Vijay reached 26 before he too was deceived by Shillingford and smartly stumped by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin to give Shillingford his second wicket of the day.
Sheldon Cottrell was the other West Indies bowler to have success when Cheteshwar Pujara sparred at a short delivery from the left-arm seamer to get an edge through to Ramdin.
The quick-fire departures of Tendulkar and Kohli had India wobbling and although Dhoni briefly steadied the ship but his departure to fast bowler Tino Best put the game back
in the balance.
Dhoni played positively in his 63-ball knock which contained five fours before driving loosely at a full length delivery and nicking a catch behind.
But Rohit and Ashwin came together to tilt the contest firmly back in India’s favour, with a partnership was closing in on 200 when the day ended.
Rohit started cautiously but slowly great in confidence and raised his
half-century with a cover-driven boundary off the ineffective left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul.
He moved into the eighties by clearing mid-wicket with Shillinford and reached three figures in rather streaky fashion when an attempted drive off Cotterell and edged to the third
WEST INDIES 1st Innings 234
India 1st innings
(Overnight 37 without loss)
S Dhawan b Shillingford 23
M Vijay st Ramdin b Shillingford 26
C Pujara c wkp Ramdin b Cottrell 17
S Tendulkar lbw b Shillingford 10
V Kohli c Powell b Shillingford 3
R Sharma not out 127
*+MS Dhoni c wkp Ramdin b
R Ashwin not out 92
Extras (b4, lb8, w1, nb1) 14
TOTAL (6 wkts; 102 overs) 354
To bat: B Kumar, Mohammed Shami, P Ojha
Fall of wickets 1-42, 2-57, 3-79, 4-82, 5-83, 6-156.
Bowling: Best 14-0-53-1, Cotterell 15-3-53-1, Shillingford 41-8-130-4, Permaul 20-1-54-0, Sammy 12-1-52-0
Toss West Indies.
Umpires: R Kettleborough, N Llong.