What used to be one of the most feared cricketing outfits going around in the 80’s & 90’s is now fighting to keep their head above water in this current era. It was a sad day when the likes of Roberts, Holding, Garner, Walsh and Ambrose decided to hang the boots up after what could be described as the most lethal group of fast bowlers ever assembled in International cricket. Even the likes of Viv Richards and Brian Lara with the bat are both distant memories, this current Windies side is in a world of trouble.
It was always going to be an uphill battle as the Windies left the Caribbean for their tour of India which is right up there with the most difficult places to play in world cricket today. One thing that did fall in the Windies favour was both Shikhar Dhawan and Jasprit Bumrah who are two highly-rated individuals for India wouldn’t feature in the upcoming test series. It was water off a duck’s back for the hosts though, they still had a side capable of getting the job done with a home ground advantage at their disposal. Winning the toss and electing to bat first at Rajkot, the heat was off the visitors to perform with the bat and instead turn their focus to performing with the ball on a wicket that looked superb to bat on. A ball that seamed back sharply into KL Rahul’s pads saw the Windies make the early breakthrough courtesy of Shannon Gabriel, a real team lifter! A common theme in this West Indian outfit saw the Indians quickly rebuild with debutante Prithvi Shaw and No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara combining for a 200+ run partnership. The visitors paid a hefty price for dropping off with the ball and just couldn’t get things back on track as skipper Virat Kohli (139), wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (92) and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (100*) who’s maiden test century was the icing on the cake in what was a dominant first innings. India declared on 649/9 as the West Indies were left with a mammoth task at hand, the inevitable was upon them though.
What was to eventuate next just about sums up this modern-day Windies side, as hard as they try they don’t seem to have a lot of fight in them compared to yesteryear. Quality could also be an issue, although they do have some promising young individuals in this side that will only benefit from these haemorrhaging’s (you’d hope). Captaining the side in the absence of Jason Holder, not even Windies opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite could dig them out of what they got themselves into as India made light work of the tourists in both innings as they were restricted to 181 & 196 in both innings. In the end, it came down to two things. One – India had no trouble whatsoever when it came to facing the Windies bowlers, Two – the visitors struggled immensely against the Indian spinners and weren’t able to stabilize their innings on two separate occasions, and as a result of that they were thumped by an innings and 272 runs. India had a clear blueprint coming into this series, and it’s worked like a charm. Their decision to play three spinners paid off with Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep collectively taking 16 wickets between the troublesome-trio.
Venturing to Hyderabad for the second test in a couple days’ time, the Windies will be desperate to put on a better performance this time around. It may sound a bit harsh, but Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer must contribute with the bat unlike the first test where they were caught second-guessing themselves in both innings, particularly Hetmyer who was run out in a horrible miscommunication followed by an unnecessarily-ugly slog which just gifted India a wicket in the second innings. The other part of the game however might be out of their hands, India are an exceptional batting team on these subcontinent wickets which will likely see the Windies bowlers made to work extremely hard for their wickets once again. Leggy Devendra Bishoo picked up a well-earned four-wicket haul, although it was at the expense of 217 runs which saw him lucky to break even. They might consider playing a second-specialist spinner in Hyderabad, Jomel Warrican’s off-spinners might come in handy after Roston Chase was dispatched for 137 runs going at over five runs an over.
After this two-game test series, both teams will turn their attention to a five-match ODI series which could potentially see India come out on top in a series whitewash. After that, India and the West Indies will compete in a three-match T20I series which could see the underdogs sneak a couple of wins in before the end of their tour. As it stands, the current test series in progress seems a forgone conclusion given what took place in Rajkot, the ODI series might be just as challenging as well which means that they need to excel in the T20’s towards the backend of the tour, there’s nothing worse than going home empty handed having not registered a single-victory against your opponent.