A drive on the up, to the left of cover point. That shot, by Ajinkya Rahane off Shannon Gabriel, came in the 57th over of India's innings on Friday. It was, according to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data, the first in-control scoring shot of the day against a good-length ball from a fast bowler.

Before that, India's batsmen had been in control against 53 length balls from the quicks, and scored off none of them. When they hadn't been in control, they had scored 19 off 13, with edges flying past the keeper or through the slip cordon.

Terming a delivery "full" or "length" or "short of good length" or "short" is a subjective thing, and the walls between the categories are often porous. But as inexact as the data may be, it still indicates how difficult this Sabina Park pitch was to bat on.

There was an even scattering of grass on the surface, and it was offering both seam movement and bounce. West Indies had chosen to bowl first, and you could see why.

Apart from the toss, though, not much had gone their way. Gabriel, for one, was having an off day. He struggled with the humidity during his first spell, and then with what appeared to be an ankle niggle. Lacking his usual hit-the-deck hostility, he instead served up a steady diet of floaty half-volleys.

There's no good time for a fast bowler to have an off day in a Test match, but this was a particularly bad time, given that West Indies were bowling first and had left out a fast bowler for a debutant offspinner.

With Gabriel leaking 20 runs in his first spell of three overs, that debutant came into the attack in the 13th over of the morning. Rahkeem Cornwall showed he was up to the task, sending down 27 overs through the day, conceding just over two-and-a-half runs an over, and getting the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara, but West Indies wouldn't have wanted to use him for that many overs - or Roston Chase, their other offspinner, for 12 overs - on a day-one pitch made for the quicks.


A good feeling to get that first Test wicket - Rahkeem Cornwall

West Indies allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall on making his debut and dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara

Luck wasn't on West Indies' side either. An early edge from Mayank Agarwal off Gabriel landed short of second slip. Later, Kemar Roach found both of Agarwal's edges in the same over, only for the ball to elude the keeper and the slip cordon both times and take the batsman from 42 to 50.

In Roach's next over, the umpire upheld a caught-behind appeal, only for a review to show Agarwal's bat had brushed his pad and made no contact with the ball.

Roach finally got the wicket he deserved in the first over after tea, getting Rahane to feather an edge behind. He could have had another in the next over, jagging one back into Virat Kohli to strike his back pad, but it was a 50-50 decision, and it went - like so much else on this day - in India's favour.

It could have been 165 for 5, but the ball ran away for four leg byes and it was instead 169 for 4, with Kohli batting on 55.

On another day, India could have run away from West Indies, but they didn't quite do that, even if they went to stumps the happier of the two sides. West Indies were still in the game, and a lot of that was down to how well their captain bowled.

In the first Test in Antigua, Jason Holder had played a mostly defensive role, bowling wide-ish lines and stringing together dot balls to give West Indies control from one end. He had to perform that function here too, but he had to do more than that, with no fourth seamer and Gabriel far from at his best.

Holder did everything that was asked of him, and he did it simply by being himself. The conditions at Sabina Park - the bounce in particular - were made for a 6'7" metronome operating in the low-to-mid 80s.

KL Rahul perhaps had the bounce at the back of his mind when he stayed rooted to his crease to a good-length ball in Holder's first over, the seventh of India's innings. It straightened towards the top of off stump, and Rahul, playing the initial angle and squaring up, edged to first slip.

By the time Holder returned after lunch, he had bowled eight overs for just seven runs. Agarwal and Kohli had put on 62 by this time, and the ball was 38 overs old. It was still doing a lot, though, and Holder dismissed Agarwal in the second over of his spell, getting the ball to climb at him and cramp him for room while attempting a weird, unbalanced back-foot punch.

To Kohli, either side of the tea break, Holder tried going around the wicket, testing him with two kinds of short balls from the new angle - the one at the front shoulder with two fielders back on the hook, and the one angling across the body with two gullies. At one point, Kohli took the bait and jabbed at the ball with both feet off the ground - the very shot that had dismissed him in the first innings in Antigua - but this time he managed to keep the ball down.

Then, after Kohli had ducked a bouncer from around the wicket, Holder switched back to over the wicket for the last ball of the 71st over. Down came an away-seamer in the fourth-stump channel. Kohli, pushed back by the previous ball, was late coming forward to defend, and the ball zipped past his outside edge.

You wondered if the moment had passed. This was a near-perfect delivery, and Kohli had been lucky enough to miss it.

Holder, though, improved on near-perfection with the first ball of his next over, pitching it on the same line, getting the same kind of movement, and drawing the same kind of response, but this time landing it a couple of inches fuller. Or maybe Kohli simply got a bigger stride in. Either way, never mind which way the luck was going; geometry was on Holder's side.

By the time he was done for the day, Holder's figures read 20-6-39-3, and while that effort might not compare with the latest doings of his closest rival for the title of world's best seam-bowling allrounder, it will keep him in the conversation.