West Indies v India, 1st Test, Antigua, 2nd day July 23, 2016

'Going to be a long struggle' for West Indies bowlers


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'Baffling to see Holder and Braithwaite bowl more than Gabriel' - Sanjay Manjrekar

In the absence of Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach, West Indies' long-time new-ball pair, their fast bowlers are still "learning the art", their bowling coach Roddy Estwick said after the second day's play of the Antigua Test. With their captain Virat Kohli moving to his maiden double-hundred, India swelled their overnight score by 264 runs before declaring on 566 for 8. Having experienced another punishing day on the field, West Indies were 31 for 1 at stumps.

"Yes, obviously it is a good wicket for batting but also we must bear in mind that as a bowling attack we have lost Jerome Taylor to retirement and we have lost Kemar Roach, who has not been selected, and when you look at our bowling attack, between them it is about 40-45 Tests," Estwick said. "So the current bowlers are still learning the art of fast bowling and trying to get the combinations right. So it is going to be a long struggle.

"And remember that India are a very good batting side as well. So it will be a tough series for us and we will continue to work hard and continue to stay disciplined and try and stay focussed as possible."

India went into the Test match with only five specialist batsmen, but that did not hurt them even after they had lost their first four wickets with only 236 on the board. R Ashwin, batting as high as No. 6 for the first time in his career, scored his third Test hundred, and Wriddhiman Saha, Amit Mishra and Mohammed Shami all made important contributions as well. Estwick said the success of the lower order came from the lack of scoreboard pressure rather than any failings on his bowling unit's part.

"It is a very good batting pitch and when you get to 400 for 4, the batsmen can come out and play freely, the tailenders can come and play freely, it is a big difference from if you are 50 for4, then the ball game changes. But when you get to that total and you have the license to go and play shots, obviously declaration is going to come. So there is no pressure on their batsmen at all. Hopefully we will see down the series what happens when they are under pressure."

West Indies chose a seemingly conservative bowling combination for the Test, picking only one frontline fast bowler in Shannon Gabriel, one specialist spinner, and two medium-paced allrounders in Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite in support. Apart from Gabriel, West Indies' bowlers largely bowled defensive lines to defensive fields.

Estwick refused to comment on the composition of the attack, saying he "had no say in selection", and said West Indies had no option but to try and contain given how Kohli was batting.

"Once Kohli was at the wicket, it was very difficult to attack," Estwick said. "If you look at how he was playing, he was scoring at a run a ball and scoring freely. With containing you have a job to do and [offspinning allrounder Roston] Chase is in his first Test match, Carlos Brathwaite who has only played three Tests, Holder in his 15thTest.

"We are still learning as young players. I heard a couple of weeks ago England lamenting the loss of Jimmy Anderson [to injury, against Pakistan], yet they have Stuart Broad with 99 Tests. So with a bowling unit it takes time and you have to be patient with a very young attack. And we are playing against a very good Indian batting line up on a pitch that is very good as well."

With West Indies facing a difficult task to save the follow-on before they can set their sights any higher, Estwick said someone in the top order had to emulate Kohli and play a big innings.

"It is a simple thing," he said. "We have to bat very well and bat deep into the fourth day and if we can do that, until just after tea on the fourth day, that will give us a chance of saving the game. But the first thing to do is avoid the follow-on and somebody in the top four will have to get a very big hundred like Kohli who got 200.

"So it is important that one of the batsmen says, 'Look, this is a good pitch, and I am going to capitalise here, and if they can come to our backyard and do it, we can do it as well.'"

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on July 23, 2016, 8:07 GMT

    Problem for WI is that they have so little to choose from. Regardless of who you suggest they are all inexperienced and have had the poorest of upbringings on these dead WI pitches (Kensington apart). Yet surely a team can't come into a test just hoping to draw it! Unless Carlos scores a 100 he has to be replaced for the next test and Holder has to play as a batsman who bowls 8 - 10 over to give the real bowlers a break. WI need to pick 4 WICKET TAKING BOWLERS or Ind will win every test. Clearly Ind doesn't like speed (who does?) so as there is nothing to lose why not pick the two fastest, most aggressive bowlers to bowl with Gabriel and let Bishoo or some other spinner do the rest. Then Holder can bowl them in short 4-5 over spells of pure pace and apart from the spinner, use himself, Chase and Kraigg for a couple overs here and there to tempt the batsmen into indiscretions. Seriously, what have they got to lose? When teams are attacking fielders perk up and take catches. Get real WI!

  • Mark on July 23, 2016, 6:41 GMT

    The West Indies bowling efforts were depressingly predictable. Any team that has Carlos Brathwaite as the 1st change bowler is going to struggle to contain a team let alone bowl them out. All the while Alzarri Joseph - a genuine promising fast bowler - is taking 4 wickets in a game in the CPL. In addition, the inclusion of Roston Chase at 6 and as a second spinner was unnecessary as Kraigg Brathwaite can be relied on for some off spin these days. I think a better and more balanced attack would have been possible with Joseph in for C Brathwaite and Jomel Warrican - who did well in both Sri Lanka and Australia - picked instead of Chase. This proposed team would be a weaker batting side than the team actually chosen but there's every likelihood that the alternative XI wouldn't have allowed India to reach 567. K Brathwaite, Bravo and Samuels all need to step up with the bat to reach the follow on and save the test.

  • Sanjay on July 23, 2016, 6:07 GMT

    Sensible comments from Roddy, he comes across as no-nonsense.

  •   Biplob Bhattacharjee on July 23, 2016, 5:34 GMT

    As someone introduced to cricket in mid 80`s always carried an impression that being tall is the foremost criteria of a quick bowler. Alas, seeing Holder bowl that notion is broken. Surely he can`t be a new bowl bowler. On occasion Anil Kumble speed was quicker than what Holder bowls mostly. With such bowling, every possibility that Bishoo will break down. Simmons lacks ideas as coach.

  • Samir on July 23, 2016, 5:00 GMT

    Jason holder is not bowling good, in fact he lacks all bowling technique only height is in his fever. Still he is not bowling quick with good pace at home ground and not giving any pressure to batman like ashvin, forget about kohli. Ashvin is hitting him straight drive with ease. Holder better you stay home on next test, do not dare to bowl at test cricket.

  • sam on July 23, 2016, 4:11 GMT

    @StarvyBZ Ishant did what he often does but made the batsmen play. Ishant was a yard short as usual (which is why he takes very few wickets unless it is a green top) but at least asked questions by making batsmen play. Umesh couldn't even make them play. Outswing to keeper at 140k looks very beautiful but if you can't make batsmen play it is a waste. For that Umesh needs to come wide of the crease and pitch it on 4th stump and swing it to make batsmen play. Umesh didn't bowl any leg-side trash which was an improvement but frankly not enough. Bhuvi should have played in place of Umesh. Shami easily looked the best among the 3 pacers yesterday by moving the ball both ways even though his line and length was a bit inconsistent. Ashwin bowled well as well. I stayed up all night to watch the whole play.

  • Desmond on July 23, 2016, 4:08 GMT

    Poor selection, sloppy feilding will be followed by inept batting. India will win inside four days. Is Dorwich the best replacement for Ramdin as keeper?

  • Jonathan on July 23, 2016, 3:41 GMT

    I still don't understand why India picked Ishant Sharma ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Kumar swings the ball both ways, a potent skill for any bowler and is very successful at dismissing opening batsmen. Maybe in the second test they may initiate the change but clearly a misjudgment in this regard. Frankly, they wasted the first new ball in this innings.

  • Vicky on July 23, 2016, 2:20 GMT

    It is a hard grind just to stick around and score any where close to 350 despite teh easy wicket. With this scoreline and 6 bowlers, India can afford to attack as opposed to the defensive game of WI. I don't see this test going beyond 5th day lunch.

  • Shekar on July 23, 2016, 2:12 GMT

    On the selection error alone, WI deserve to lose this test badly!!!

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