RAJKOT, India – West Indies suffered at the hands of teenager Prithvi Shaw who struck the third fastest hundred on debut as India dominated the opening day of the first Test today.
Opting to bat first at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, India marched to 364 for four at the close, with the 18-year-old Shaw belting a superb 134 and captain Virat Kohli ominously poised on an unbeaten 72.
Cheteshwar Pujara had earlier missed out on a hundred when he stroked 86 while Ajinkya Rahane chipped in with 41, as India recovered from the loss of opener KL Rahul in the first over without scoring, to collar the visitors’ bowling attack.
Already set back by the loss of seasoned new-ball bowler Kemar Roach who returned to Barbados last week due to the death of his grandmother, West Indies suffered yet another blow when captain Jason Holder was ruled out of the match with an ankle injury.
It meant a Test debut for the inexperienced 22-year-old Sherman Lewis and also saw Keemo Paul, at age 20 and with a single Test to his name, having to share the new ball with speedster Shannon Gabriel.
India cashed in on the weakened attack by scoring quickly and already, the Windies face a long road back into the match, heading into Friday’s day two.
However, there was some early celebration for the Windies when Gabriel struck Rahul in front with the sixth ball of the match with just three runs on the board. The right-hander reviewed in desperation but replays showed the ball hitting middle stump.
Any hopes West Indies had of finding further immediate breakthroughs were then dashed as Shaw and Pujara combined in a 206-run second wicket stand to consolidate the innings.
The right-handed Shaw struck 19 fours off 154 deliveries while Pujara, also right-handed, faced 130 balls and counted 14 fours in chalking up his 19th half-century in his 63rd Test.
Shaw gathered his runs on both sides of the wicket, taking 12 from Paul’s second over of the morning courtesy of three boundaries before driving the same bowler for fours through the off and leg side to move into the 40s.
He reached his half-century off 56 deliveries and was unbeaten on 75 off 74 deliveries at lunch as India reached 133 for one, with Pujara on 56.
Shaw wasted little time in picking up where he had left off in the first session, twice drilling leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo to the leg side boundary in the first over after the interval.
He raced into the 90s with another pulled boundary off the ineffective Bishoo before raising three figures off just 99 balls nearly three-quarters of an hour after the interval, punching Paul to cover for a couple.
With the achievement, Shaw became the fourth youngest player to score a hundred on debut and the youngest ever Indian.
With tea beckoning, West Indies struck twice to temporarily stall India’s progress. Pujara flirted with a wide one and feathered a catch behind to give Lewis his maiden Test wicket, about 40 minutes before tea.
And Shaw finally departed in the final over before the break when he tamely chipped a return catch to Bishoo.
On 232 for three at tea, India subdued the Windies in the final session thanks to a 105-run, fourth-wicket stand between the enterprising Kohli and Rahane.
Unbeaten on four at the interval, Kohli signalled his intentions immediately following the resumption, imperiously driving Lewis to the straight boundary.
He reached his 20th half-century in Tests off 100 balls and all told, has so far counted four fours in a 137-ball innings.
Rahane, meanwhile, had faced 92 balls and struck five fours and looked a safe bet for a half-century before edging a cut at part-time off-spinner Roston Chase to be caught at the wicket, with the close in sight. (CMC)