West Indies 197 for 6 (Chase 50*, Holder 10*, Kuldeep 3-50) v India
The former West Indies captain says he was disappointed with the way Powell got out
West Indies had everything going for them – toss, flat pitch, injured opposition bowler – except their actual batting on the first day of the Hyderabad Test. India made a good comeback after a profligate start and the injury to debutant Shardul Thakur. R Ashwin provided the control, Kuldeep Yadav the mystery, and Umesh Yadav came back with reverse-swing. Only Roston Chase managed to resist India for a considerable amount of time, moving to an unbeaten 50 by tea, but the bulk of the West Indies line-up struggled to attune itself to the rhythms of Test cricket.
West Indies swung madly between ultra-aggressive and ultra-defensive batting as opposed to just playing, to just let their natural batting take over in good batting conditions. There seemed to be a lot of predetermination to how they went about batting. Kieran Powell, Shimron Hetmeyer and Sunil Ambris were a shot-a-minute and Kraiig Brathwaite blocked everything. Despite getting two gifted boundaries in the first over, Brathwaite scored 6 off the next 62 balls he faced. The other three showed little faith in their defence, or ability to pick Kuldeep’s variations.
The day had begun positively enough. Jason Holder was back, he called correctly at the toss, Umesh was loose with the new ball, and Thakur walked off with a groin injury in only his second over. It is worth noting Thakur came back from the Asia Cup with a groin injury, which should raise more questions about India’s handling of injuries.
The rest of the day, though, put these uncomfortable thoughts behind. Ashwin and Kuldeep controlled the scoring and were rewarded with a wicket each before lunch. Powell continued his extremely attacking approach, stepping out to Ashwin and hitting him over mid-on second ball. Eventually he played a shot too many, and chipped Ashwin to extra-cover for 22 off 30 balls. Despite that early boundary, Ashwin only conceded seven runs off his first 10.2 overs.
This chokehold from Ashwin allowed Kuldeep to go through his bag of tricks at the other end. He began by trapping Brathwaite lbw with stock delivery following a wrong’un landing on a similar line. That the batsmen were not reading Kuldeep out of the hand was to become more obvious after the lunch break: the left-hand batsman Hetmeyer padded up a wrong’un, and right-hand batsman Sunil Ambris tried to hit him over mid-on but the wrong’un went to cover for an easy catch.
Apart from Chase, who looked hardly troubled at all in his fifty, as should be the case on this pitch, Shai Hope and Shane Dowrich showed you could bat normally: keep the good balls out, and attack the bad ones. They both fell to the returning Umesh just before the two breaks. With the older ball, Umesh found better control, and reverse-swing, to dismiss both lbw.
Chase, who was in control of 78 of the 81 balls he faced, had only Holder to look to for support if West Indies were going to get a respectable total.