West Indies have failed once again in Test cricket. This time to the Indians in the first Test of the Seagrams Royal Stag Cup at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The Windies were defeated by an innings and 92 runs in just over three and a half days with very few performances to shout about. That win was also India’s biggest test win outside of Asia.
The Caribbean boys failed to score more than 250 runs in both innings, getting a paltry 243 runs in the first innings off 90.2 overs and 231 in the second innings from 78 overs in reply to India’s mammoth first innings score of 566 for 8. The West Indies’ bowling struggles continued from where they left off in Australia. The bowlers bowled well in patches but those patches weren’t long enough. They hardly tested the Indian batting long enough and the quality of the bowling was very weak. Davendra Bishoo returning from injury was one of the better bowlers for the West Indies, grabbing three crucial wickets at very important points of the Indian innings. Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was pacey as usual but he struggled to get assistance from the pitch picking up only two important wickets in what was a hard day at the office.
Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite are both quality all-rounders but they are both also very similar players. Neither player was able to pick up a wicket bowling 49 overs between and the Indian batsmen were hardly tested by them. They bowled tight and accurate but the Indians scored with ease off of them. This makes one question their roles in the team and if they are suited for the bowling positions they fulfil with neither being a top class fast bowling option and this allows teams time to manoeuvre their bowling easily. Roston Chase on debut was used almost as a specialist bowler instead of a part-timer, delivering 34 overs in the Indian innings to make up for the absence of a fourth quality bowler. Part-time bowler Kraigg Brathwaite came handy again with the ball grabbing three key Indian wickets while India were causing havoc on the West Indian bowling.
As weak as the West Indies bowling was the batting performance was just as horrible. Batsmen got starts while others failed from the beginning. Patience was the word preached before the start of the Test but some of the West Indian batsman failed to live up to it with many of them giving away their wickets to shots that were not necessary in game situations.
Kraigg Brathwaite, known for his resistance, was strong in defence as usual, he attacked when needed but was solid throughout the majority of his innings. Brathwaite was the mainstay of the West Indies first innings scoring a disciplined 74 to give the Indians one of their few challenges of the match. Rajendra Chandrika continues to show some promise and is due a big score. Once he continues to be patient at the crease and approaches his innings with more confidence, then the big score will come eventually. Darren Bravo, one of the more senior players, failed to put down a performance in either innings. Bravo seemed to have found the short pitch bowling from the Indian pacers difficult to handle and that needs to be examined for the next Test match if he is to score in this series. Marlon Samuels had a tough match, being dismissed cheaply in the first innings while scoring a classy half century in the second innings. More is required from him if the West Indies are to compete with the Indians in the remainder of the series.
Jermaine Blackwood received a pair in the match, being dismissed without scoring in both innings. His position in the team should be a cause for concern because Blackwood has now failed to score over 30 runs in his last 9 Test innings, with his last big score being 92 in the first Test against Sri Lanka back in October 2015. Roston Chase seemed solid with the bat. He put together a solid knock in the first innings of 23 runs and seems like a good enough batsman for the future based on his productivity over the past two seasons in regional cricket. He must now convert starts into major innings.
Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich looked good with the bat as well as behind the stumps despite dropping Man-of-the-Match Ravichandran Ashwin when he was on 43. Dowrich had a solid knock of 57 not in the first innings, being very composed in both defence and attack as well as being very busy at the crease, hardly giving the Indian bowlers a chance to settle. West Indies failed to build partnerships throughout the first innings with only one partnership being over 50 runs and that being the eighth-wicket stand between Dowrich and captain Holder of 62 runs.
Carlos Brathwaite scored his third half-century in his third consecutive Test and calls have been made for him to be pushed up the order in a better batting position to accommodate a specialist bowler in the side. Bishoo was very impressive with the bat in both innings scoring a defiant 12 as night watchman in the first innings and a hard fought 45 in the second innings. He was not only solid in defence but his strokeplay was eye-catching. Bishoo looked confident with the bat and caused the Indian bowlers a lot of hassle due to his willingness to go after their bowling. Bishoo and Carlos Brathwaite put on a 95-run partnership for the ninth wicket in the second innings, the highest partnership for the West Indies in the match.
Player ratings for West Indies
1. Kraigg Brathwaite – 7 Solid with the bat and bowled very well to take three wickets.
2. Rajendra Chandrika – 4 He is due a big score once he continues to be patient
3. Darren Bravo – 2 Rough game, needs to show his class for the remainder of series if team is to do well.
4. Marlon Samuels – 5 More is expected but a well-played knock in the second-innings.
5. Roston Chase (debut) – 4 In general a fair debut and better performances can be expected.
6. Jermaine Blackwood – 0 Poor performances, failed to score in both innings as a specialist batsman.
7. Shane Dowrich – 6 Impressive performance behind and in front of the stumps.
8. Carlos Brathwaite – 5 Credit must be given for his solid batting performance but needs to take wickets.
9. Jason Holder (captain) – 4 More is expected from the captain with bat and ball.
10. Davendra Bishoo – 7 Best all-round performer for the West Indies, had a good game.
11. Shannon Gabriel – 4 Good with the new ball but needs more scalps in wickets column.