West Indies v India, 1st Test, Antigua, 1st day July 21, 2016

Kohli ton gives India shot at domination


India 302 for 4 (Kohli 143*, Dhawan 84, Bishoo 3-108) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Manjrekar: 'WI attack one of the weakest you'll see'

In the lead-up to this series, India's captain Virat Kohli arranged a meeting with Viv Richards to take his blessings, in the words of Richards. On the first day of the series, at a ground named after Richards, Kohli showed all the intent that was a hallmark of Richards. He picked five bowlers, going for specialists ahead of those who can bat; he went with Shikhar Dhawan, who brings the possibility of quicker runs than KL Rahul; and he chose to bat when the first session on this pitch was the only one expected to offer bowlers any assistance on the first three days.

Most importantly, with India in a spot of bother at 74 for 2 and struggling to score freely, Kohli batted with similar intent, albeit against a limited attack that must have been close to tiring out. He scored an unbeaten 143, his 12th Test century and his first against West Indies, to put India in a position to dominate, a goal they seemed to have set themselves at the start of the series. To make it better for Kohli, his selection of Dhawan paid off. Some considered Dhawan lucky to be playing this Test, he enjoyed some luck against testing bowling at the start of the innings, but he helped India keep a disciplined West Indies attack at bay with his first half-century in eight innings. The two added 105 in 27.1 overs; the previous 74 runs had taken 27.4 overs.

India would have expected to work hard for their runs on a slow pitch surrounded by a slow outfield in North Sound, but hands in front of helmets as protective action wouldn't have been on the agenda. In their first Test under new bowling coach Roddy Estwick, the West Indies attack, thin on numbers but displaying tenacity, tested the Indian top order in the first session. Shannon Gabriel, making a Test comeback after good returns in the ODI triangular series earlier this season, rattled the openers with his pace, accounting for M Vijay with a bouncer, but Dhawan was prepared to fight before capitalising on the second string, an older ball and falling intensity.

Play began along expected lines. As opposed to India's intent, West Indies took the safer route given their limited resources: they picked the extra batsman, debutant Roston Chase, and chose Jason Holder, who on many sheets was marked as an allrounder, to share the new ball. India were expected to look for runs, and relatively quick runs, while West Indies were expected to frustrate India. On the field, it was going to be a test of execution and endurance for West Indies.

The execution was near perfect before lunch. In his first spell of 4-2-6-1, Gabriel roughed up both Dhawan and Vijay. Dhawan had the worse of the exchanges, top-edging Holder before fending hopelessly four times in a row against Gabriel. Vijay edged the second bouncer he faced for Kraigg Brathwaite to juggle a catch at second slip. Holder - first spell of 5-2-10-0 - played his part in making Gabriel effective, and Carlos Brathwaite followed it up with a spell of six overs for six runs.

Virat Kohli ended the first day in Antigua unbeaten on 143 © Getty Images

Dhawan might have had a problem against the short ball, but his discipline outside off and his will to make the bowlers get his wicket stood out. He refused to fall for the sucker delivery after the short ones, shelving his cover drive - playing only seven of them - and indulging only in the late cut off the part-timer Chase, who bowled economical overs of offspin in the first session. Unlike Cheteshwar Pujara, who got stuck and fell for 16 off 67 after a 60-run second-wicket partnership, Dhawan kept finding a way to score. While it was the late cut at the start - 14 runs off five attempts - he began to use his feet towards the end of the first session. He went into lunch with 29 off his last 26 balls, and would come back to get himself in before opening up again.

Pujara, though, fell immediately after lunch, getting a leading edge off a short legbreak from the returning Devendra Bishoo. The wicket changed the complexion of the day's play. With Kohli came the intent to score runs. The flat and slow pitch didn't call for a watertight technique, so Kohli could take a few liberties, but his attitude of looking to score first before falling back on other options exposed the limited West Indies attack.

Until then, West Indies had kept India quiet by bowling well outside off, but Kohli began driving, a shot that can be dangerous early in the innings in some conditions, but not in Antigua. There was no seam, no unfriendly bounce, and the ball was too old to swing. As if a sign of how the West Indies concentration was being tested, Kohli's first boundary came through a misfield, from Marlon Samuels.

Dhawan began to find more authority in his cuts. He upper-cut Gabriel for a six, swept Bishoo and stopped missing chances for singles. All through, Kohli kept driving imperiously. In the 34th over, the run rate reached three for the first time since the third over. The two kept picking ones and twos effortlessly. At one point Kohli pinched a single to Gabriel at mid-off, and told his partner, "He is very tired." Before you realised it, Kohli had followed Dhawan to a half-century, bringing it up off the 75th ball he faced. Bishoo, though, came back just before tea to trap Dhawan lbw on the sweep.

Kohli added 57 with an enterprising Ajinkya Rahane, who like Pujara, saw a short legbreak, shaped to pull but didn't manage to adjust as the ball stopped and bounced at him. In another sign of intent, India had R Ashwin batting at No. 6, ahead of Wriddhiman Saha. West Indies continued with their conservative approach, happy to slow India down, not taking the new ball and getting in some quiet overs before stumps as Kohli and Ashwin added an unbeaten 66 runs.

Kohli brought up what had looked like an inevitable century. Only once was there alarm during his innings. After a mini quiet period, he drove at a wide Brathwaite delivery. The edge flew wide of gully. On this pitch, such a drive to prevent the bowlers from bowling quiet overs wide outside off was a risk worth taking. As was playing five bowlers. Kohli was prepared to take both.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dennis on July 23, 2016, 19:59 GMT

    With a Bajan head selector, & bajan selectors, I wonder how many bajan players in the W.I. Team.??????

  • nishan7538451 on July 22, 2016, 16:38 GMT

    Kohli making some easy runs .The thing with kohli is that is he is always looking to improve unlike some other indian batsman who are stagnant.even ashwin looks at par with some other indian batsman .Ashwin could be india s allrounder of some quality. enough of binny and jadeja experiments.jadeja should b selected as a bowler nt as an allrounder.

  • Sparsha on July 22, 2016, 16:30 GMT

    I think Kohli is by far the best player of this generation .I am not being decorative about Kohli. But its the truth. And plz dont bring legends in the comparisions. Its totally unfair. The class of Sachin,Viv,Kallis,Gavaskar,Sangakara,Bradman are untouchable. Try to respect them. And ur 100 words bullshits means a total disrespect to those great guns who were the real cricketing assets. People here doesnt seem to appreciate cricketing talents but rather try to over shadow the achievments of people who they dont really like. Wake up people, try to appreciate cricket rather than making a mess of ur unworthy opinions.

  • Salt on July 22, 2016, 16:13 GMT

    @BIG_POPPA_94-Hope you are joking while comparing kohli to sachin.Both are a once in a lifetime batsmen.They were/are ahead in their time.Sachin did more for cricket than just score runs.He inspired a nation.Kohli has a lot to learn from Sachin in that respect.Regarding pure stats, lets wait and watch about who and when breaks Sachin's record.But also keep in mind the bats in use and the declining overall bowkling.

  • Vasava on July 22, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    @cricfan36841 let the australian team tour India , they will go down behind west indies in rankings....INDIA is at No. in the rankings for your information.

  • Miyoshi on July 22, 2016, 16:11 GMT

    ASHWINI has proven that he is a better batsman than SAHA at international test level. Even ASHWIN bat avg is a lot higher than Saha. His avg of 36 batting at 8 is ridiculous. This is where the team management missed a trick. They should have blooded him at 6 or 7 a year ago. That would have made him a genuine test all rounder by now. He is too good a batsman to bat at 8. Team mgmt wasted too much time in the past experimenting with Saha & Jadeja @6& 7..

  •   vkthebest on July 22, 2016, 16:09 GMT

    Virat you beauty, a belemishless, rollicking double hundred. Lol to all the negative comments below. Don't mess with the king.

  • Roger on July 22, 2016, 16:03 GMT

    @CRICFAN31684811: Check the current score line. Kohli scored double hundred. First by an Indian captain overseas.

  • Rahul on July 22, 2016, 15:48 GMT

    @CRICFAN31684811: India is overdependent on Kohli yet in the home series against SA it was Rahane who performed? Yet in Australia it was also Vijay, KL Rahul and Rahane who contributed? Yet in SL it was Pujara who contributed? No, a captain can do very little if the quality on bowling is not there. // "I meant to say bowler friendly conditions" -- Oh so you mean SA, NZ and Aus which are all alien conditions to Indian batsman? All places that Kohli has performed. Bowlers win matches, not batsman. Kohli is already the superior ODI batsman (far superior than Tendulkar) and is the most consistent batsman across all formats (Tests - 46.89 and rising, ODIs - 51.51, T20 - 58.60). Name me one batsman who has such averages across all formats? All the others are good at only one or two, but not all 3. Sir Viv's opinion means more than yours.

  • hafeez on July 22, 2016, 15:38 GMT

    Virat is a class apart.

    Awesome player and scores so heavily and Quickly.

    He is a champ

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