India opener Shikhar Dhawan had gone eight Test innings without a 50-plus score, before his 84 in the first innings of the Antigua Test. He had been susceptible in the channel outside off, often reaching for the ball with his hands, on earlier tours to England and Australia. At the training camp in Bangalore, ahead of the departure to the Caribbean, Dhawan had focused on his feet movement and judgement against away-going deliveries outside off, with batting coach Sanjay Bangar placing a fourth stump just outside off.
The workout seemed to have reaped immediate reward, with Dhawan showing restraint outside off and laying the platform for India's 302 for 4 on the first day. He was tested by fast bowler Shannon Gabriel - who had M Vijay nicking behind with a prancing delivery - in a fiery first spell, but Dhawan survived by adhering to attrition over attack.
"I think opening is the toughest work and you need a big heart for it," Dhawan said. "New wicket, new ball and they bowl with full energy and as an opener your technique should also be good because you have to leave a lot of balls and you need patience as well. Middle order needs it [patience] too but new ball has its own challenge. Vijay got a good ball, it was a very quick ball. I was luckier in that sense so Gabriel was bowling really well and with time you get that experience.
"Now I know better from the past about which balls to leave and that is from experience and it helps improve the game and my shot selection and it showed in the partnership with Pujara and Kohli."
Dhawan felt India were in a "good position", especially after sacrificing a batsman or an allrounder to beef up their bowling, and hinted at the team's strategy of batting only once of a slowing surface.
"We are in a good position especially because we are playing with only five batsmen," Dhawan said. "So we are in a good position and we will want to bat as long as possible tomorrow, that will also tire them out. Good thing is we have Virat set and batting."
Dhawan lauded Virat Kohli, who scored his 12th Test century, with whom he shaped India's progress with a third-wicket partnership of 105 in 27.1 overs.
"He has played a tremendous knock and scored a hundred and continued scoring," Dhawan said. "Hopefully he scores big runs and gets a double-hundred after 150. It feels good to bat with him and we were rotating strike and scoring runs at a good pace. I feel that made a difference because we made the partnership in 120 balls or something. That is a good thing and it is always a pleasure to watch Virat, the way he times the ball."
Dhawan also identified the importance of Cheteshwar Pujara's contribution in blunting a disciplined West Indies attack, although Pujara only contributed 16 off 67 balls, before lobbing a leading edge to point off legspinner Devendra Bishoo.
"My partnership with Pujara was also important because the ball was new at that time and it was important to leave the ball at that time," Dhawan said. "The middle order got benefit of that because the ball was older and my partnership with Virat benefitted from that."