1st Test, Kolkata

India v West Indies, 2013-14


Sachin Tendulkar walks out for his 199th Test, India v West Indies, 1st Test, Kolkata, 1st day, November 6, 2013
Sachin Tendulkar walks out for his 199th Test match © BCCI
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Tour and tournament reports : India v West Indies, 2013-14
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Teams: India | West Indies

At Kolkata, November 6-8, 2013. India won by an innings and 51 runs. Toss: West Indies. Test debuts: Mohammed Shami, R. G. Sharma; S. S. Cottrell.

At 83 for five on the second morning, India were in a spot of bother. Shillingford, the tall off-spinner, had found turn and bounce on a relaid pitch to grab four wickets. Eden Gardens was not even half full, and Sachin Tendulkar was already back in the dressing room.

This was not how it was meant to be. Tendulkar had spent 41 minutes compiling ten, then failed to read Shillingford's doosra. The ball hit him on his right thigh as he pushed forward down the wrong line, losing his balance in the process. After some contemplation umpire Nigel Llong raised his finger. It looked messy, but replays also suggested it looked high. Sections of the crowd berated Llong; others mocked India for opposing DRS. Tendulkar walked off without much fuss, though he did gesture to teammates back in the dressing-room that he felt the ball would have gone over the stumps.

The morning haze had not yet lifted. Here was a perfect opportunity for West Indies to keep the Indians down. But it came as little surprise that they let the chance slip. Rohit Sharma, making his Test debut after 144 matches in the shorter formats (including a record 111 one-day internationals), and Ashwin combined to raise 280 in 72 overs - Test cricket's third-highest stand for the seventh wicket, and India's second-highest for any wicket against West Indies (Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar put on an unbroken 344 on this ground against Alvin Kallicharran's Packer-reduced side in 1978-79).

The partnership thoroughly punctured the Caribbean spirit. In February 2010, Sharma had been minutes away from a maiden Test, against South Africa in his home town of Nagpur, when he turned his ankle playing football in the warmup. Now, following a one-day double-hundred five days earlier against Australia, he finally had another opportunity. He walked in at the fall of Tendulkar's wicket, and straight away slipped into the driver's seat - monitoring the bowling, manoeuvring the score, and wristily manipulating the field. His eventual 177 was ten short of Dhawan's record for the highest score by an Indian on Test debut earlier in the year, but Sharma did surpass Doug Walters's 155, against England at Brisbane in 1965-66, as the highest from a debutant No. 6.

Many of his team-mates had not paid Shillingford due respect. Indeed, when Vijay walked past a straight one to be stumped, Shillingford became the second-fastest West Indian spinner to 50 Test wickets, in 11 matches, behind Alf Valentine and level with Sonny Ramadhin. Sharma, though, played him well off the back foot, and swept expertly. With Ashwin, whose only previous Test century had come at Mumbai against the same opponents two years earlier, Sharma accelerated on the third morning to give India a lead of 219.

Endurance was called for from the West Indians. But twice they threw away a good start. In the first innings - after Sammy called "heads", and a special commemorative coin landed with Tendulkar's smile facing up - they were decently perched at 138 for two, only for eight to fall for 96 as the pacy local boy Mohammed Shami started to make the old ball swerve. Tendulkar even picked up his 201st international wicket (and 46th in Tests), when Shillingford played down the wrong line.

Second time round, West Indies should have corrected some of their mistakes. But from 101 for one just before tea on the third day, they lost nine wickets in 24 overs. Shami was the main reason for the incredible submission. He had forced his way into the Test side after fiery one-day spells against Australia, and in the continued absence of Zaheer Khan, who was seeking to rebuild his reputation and fitness. Somewhat incongruously, Shami was presented with his Test cap by Ishant Sharma, another seamer he had usurped. It did not take long to realise he was a skilful manipulator of the old ball: six of his nine victims were embarrassed to see their stumps rattled, and on some occasions uprooted.

Before the match, Sammy was loud and proud about the experience in West Indies' batting department. Yet Gayle was twice an easy scalp for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Darren Bravo, the highest scorer on West Indies' last trip here, was committing childish mistakes: first running himself out, then cutting loosely to point. And Chanderpaul couldn't hold up India by himself. As for Ramdin and Sammy, it was hard to make a case for them as Test Nos 6 and 7. Only Samuels could count himself unlucky: he was beaten by probably the ball of the match in the first innings, a swinging indipper from Shami; then given lbw to the same bowler in the second, when there was again enough doubt for Llong to have turned down the appeal.
Man of the Match: R. G. Sharma.

© John Wisden & Co.