'Opting to bowl a mistake' - Pujara
After losing the first unofficial Test to West Indies A in Mysore, India A captain Cheteshwar Pujara admitted that his decision to bowl first had backfired. The match was dominated by the West Indies spinners who exploited a slow pitch and shared 19 wickets between them to bowl out the hosts for 152 on the final day to win by 162 runs.
India went in with three seamers - Mohammad Shami, Ishwar Pandey and Ashok Dinda - but the conditions didn't assist them as expected. West Indies picked only two specialist seamers but the bulk of the bowling was done by the spinners Nikita Miller, Veerasammy Permaul and the part-timer Narsingh Deonarine.
"We went in with three pacers and found nothing in the pitch for them, not even reverse swing," Pujara said. "Personally, I thought we should have batted on winning the toss. Opting to bowl was a mistake."
The seamers picked only two wickets in the first innings, but the offspinner Parvez Rasool was the most effective bowler, bowling 45 overs for a five-wicket haul. West Indies piled on 429 and India in response conceded a lead of 184. West Indies batted again and set India a target of 315 to chase on the final day, but the hosts' batting faltered again to spin. Pujara said the plan was to go for a win.
"If we had wickets in hand we could have chased the target," he said. "We needed a very good start for that. But we lost three wickets before lunch. Later, as the ball became older, it was tougher to bat."
Manpreet Juneja was the only Indian batsman to impress in both innings, with scores of 84 and 70 and Pujara praised him for his application on a tough wicket. "He batted really well, given the kind of wicket he was batting on. He has a lot of talent and I think he has a good future."
West Indies A captain Kirk Edwards praised his side for a "clinical" performance with a special mention to his spinners. The left-arm spin duo of Permaul and Miller took five-wicket hauls in the first and second innings respectively, the latter bowling 36.4 overs in the final day and conceding only 40.
"Miller was top class. Every time I called on him he responded in a positive way," Edwards said. "He delivered in the first innings and when I asked him to use the new ball in the second innings he responded as well. He's one of the most experienced members of the team and he stepped up with the bat in the first innings and with the ball both times when we bowled.
"Permaul is a very confident player and is always relaxed. He helps to take the pressure off his team-mates and keep the pressure on the opposition, as we saw on both occasions when we bowled. He has played at the highest level before and is showing the benefits."
The teams head to Shimoga for the second unofficial Test starting on Wednesday.