India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 2nd day November 7, 2013

The Best route to popularity

N Hunter
Plays from the second day of the first Test between India and West Indies in Kolkata

The gesture
Tino Best can evoke a lot of emotions in various people and is a rare character in cricket. On the second morning, after M Vijay tapped a ball back to him on the charge, Best reacted quickly on his follow through by throwing the ball over the batsman's head. That may have been Best's way of welcoming Vijay, but the early morning crowd cautioned the bowler with a collective scream. Smartly, as he walked towards his fielding position in the deep, Best folded both his hands to form a 'namaste'. The crowd, impressed with the gesture, applauded him loudly.

The salute
Bowling from wide of the crease with a sling-arm action, debutant Sheldon Cottrell pitched a well-directed bouncer at Cheteshwar Pujara. A vigilant Pujara arched his back to cope with the rising bounce and opened the face of his bat in an attempt to steer the ball over the slip cordon. The ball, however, deviated slightly after pitching and moved too close for Pujara's comfort. The nick went straight to the ecstatic wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. It took Cottrell a couple of seconds to realise he had his first wicket in Tests, but a big smile lit up his face and he celebrated with a salute towards the West Indies dressing room, a nod to the years he has spent with the Jamaican Defence Force as a soldier.

The Tendulkar moment
Thousands of fans had waited in long queues to buy tickets and watch Sachin Tendulkar bat in his penultimate match at the Eden Gardens. The moment arrived when Shane Shillingford had M Vijay stumped and the half-full Eden Gardens rose in unison to give Tendulkar a standing ovation. For the next 40 minutes Tendulkar's every move and stroke brought the fans immense pleasure. When he was out suddenly, they stood up again to applaud their favourite cricketer and planned to be back in a couple of days' time to get their money's worth.

The protective force
In the 56th over of the Indian innings, the eccentric Best tried to test Rohit Sharma, subjecting him to a verbal attack. Rohit was unperturbed by the bowler's sledges but, as Best moved closer to the batsman with every ball of the over, the crowd got behind Rohit and rose protectively to rebuke Best. Sensing that his ploy had failed, Best remained quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

The release
As the game neared the final hour of the second day, the Eden Gardens pitch became tricky offering low and uneven bounce. Shillingford utilised the conditions, and Rohit had to squat few times to defend shooter-like deliveries. Finally, on 76, Rohit decided to quell the challenge by charging at the offspinner and he lofted Shillingford over the midwicket fence for the first six of the Indian innings. It was a commanding shot that relieved Rohit's nerves as he approached a memorable century on debut.

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  • cool on November 7, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    My Man of the match would be Ravichandran Ashwin, he batted with ease & without any nerves. He never ever looked in a slightest discomfort vs shillingford.. But shillingford also deserves the accolades as every ball he bowled after 5 down my heart was in my mouth!!!! super player. Wonder how WI have succeeded in putting up such great spinners Narine & shilling.. I would also believe Saqlain had a big role in prep wi spinners to this & then WI A tour.. How abt BCCI hire him for a while for Ind spinners too, but it will be unlikely with the high egos going around.

  • Ashok on November 7, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    My First play of the day was the great fight back from the Indian #'s 6, 7 & 8 batsmen who got nearly 250 runs between them to pull India from the verge of conceding the first innings lead to a commanding 120 run lead. Its awesome to have such lower order batting strength & this makes India a side with Never- say - Die spirit. Rohit century on his debut at the Eden Garden is the third one on this ground matching those of Shodhan & Azharuddin. My second play of the day is inability of WI team to push home the initial advantage gained when India was 83 for 5. WI needs a second spinner to match the Shillingford's heroics. Third & the most important play is utter take over by 2 debutants Shami & Rohit to lead India into the commanding position they are in by setting an example by their outstanding performances on Day 1 & Day2. Justification & Case for including more debutants, Mr. Dhoni!

  • murugesan on November 7, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    for me the stand out difference of both teams will be 2 1.the approach to test batting, by dividing batting in to two, one running b/w the wicket (WI- 1s 40, 2s 8, 3s 1, together 57, 24.35% of thier runs, on the other hand (Ind- 1s 129, 2s 19, 3s 1, together 170, 48% of thier runs), two boundries (WI- 4s 35, 6s 4, together 164, 70.08% of their runs), yet innings run rate higher by indians(WI-3.00, Ind- 3.47) 2.all ways you cant expect all of your batsmen to come good there will be off days, on those days other need to back up. the point i am here to make is, WI on 138/4 with chandar on one side how the keeper and the next wicket approached the game, now compare this with Ind on 83/5 far worst than WI With Rohit on one end and how the keeper and the next one supported him. for sure with his experience and the record against Ind Chandar would have done the same as rohit. congratulation for India showing the world how to play under pressure. congratulations for Rohit Sharma.

  • Sudhakar on November 7, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    You missed pointing out one of the best plays of the day. As the Ashwin/Rohit partnership was just beginning to start and run making appearing difficult, India benefited from two mis-fields. First, Rohit square drove a Tino Best delivery toward deep gully and Shillingford was well placed to cut-off the boundary. For some strange reason, he put in a lackadaisical effort in the boundary and let the ball sneak under his attempted foot-stop. In the next over, Shillingford was half-paddled / half-glanced by Ashwin. While the shot appeared to be a very casual, the ball was speeding to the boundary - thanks to the lush green outfield. Tino Best pulled in his best possible effort and still ended up returning the compliment back to Shillingford as the ball sneaked under his body for a four. The two fours set the tone for play till Tea, and Rohit/Ashwin never really looked back.

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    Though the hype is about Sachin's penultimate match but this test should be remembered for the patience of Rohit and Ashwin. They have surely put India into a commanding position now. Its seems unlikely that Sachin will get another chance to bat at Edens. He scored 10 which is his jersey number.

  • Dummy4 on November 7, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    well played rohit sharma & ravichandran ashwin.... and MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI

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