India bowled the West Indies out for 234 and then closed on 37 without loss as they dominated day one of the opening Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Earlier in the day, Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to bat first, on what seemed like a pitch with variable bounce. In Sachin Tendulkar’s 199th Test match, there were three debutants: for the West Indies, left-arm medium pacer Sheldon Cottrell and for India, middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma and medium pacer Mohammad Shami.
The Windies made a brisk start to the day, with both Chris Gayle and Kieran Powell chasing runs whenever the opportunity provided itself.
Despite the early introduction of spin in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, the runs flowed for a bit as the opening duo added 34. Just as Gayle was beginning to look dangerous, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-33) struck and had him caught behind, for 18 runs. Shami too got into the attack at the other end, snaring his maiden Test wicket, as Powell mistimed his pull and was caught for 28 runs.
Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels then put up resistance, seeing their team safely to lunch. And this was going to be the highlight of the day, for the two batsmen put on a wholesome display of shot-making and scoring runs.
They put on 91 for the third wicket, with Samuels completing his fifty in just 61 balls. He hit eight fours and two sixes, but was then bowled in spectacular fashion by Shami, with an inswinging delivery rising enough to take the top of his middle stump. He was bowled for 65 runs and thereafter the Windies’ downfall started.
Bravo (23 runs off 96 balls) was dismissed in the next over, the 45th, without a run being added. He was sent back by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Shami's throw beat him to the crease.
In the next over, Shami clean bowled Dinesh Ramdin (4) to reduce them to 143 for five. Sammy (16) offered some support to Chanderpaul to stem the collapse and they added 29 runs for the sixth wicket. He was out caught by Bhuvneshwar Kumar off the bowling of Pragyan Ojha, trying to clear the boundary.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought on Sachin Tendulkar to bowl the last over before tea and the maestro struck with his fourth delivery, trapping Shane Shillingford (5) LBW. West Indies went to tea at 192 for seven, losing five wickets in the second session.
Following the tea break, Ashwin broke through Chanderpaul’s defences with a quicker straight one. In his 149th Test, he scored 36 runs. He then removed Veersammy Permaul for 14 runs and later Shami bowled Cottrell for a duck, meaning the West Indies' innings came to a halt at 234 runs.
Shami finished with four for 71 in a fiery debut effort, while Ashwin finished with two for 52. Ojha (1-62), Tendulkar (1-5) and Kumar finished with a wicket apiece.
India's opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay came together for the first time since March as they were left with 12 overs to negotiate. There were the odd short balls, rising sharply, one even hitting Dhawan, that caused them discomfort, but more or less the two batsmen were comfortable at the crease, showing no hurry to score their runs, unlike Mohali earlier in the year.
Select quotes from the press conference:
Marlon Samuels: "We had a particular target in mind when we opted to bat. And we have fallen short of it. But now we have to fight it out in the field and make India work hard for their runs.
"Mohammad Shami bowled really well, using the new ball and the old ball to good effect. He was able to bring it in and then shape it outwards, bowling with good pace. He should be happy with his Test debut.”
Mohammad Shami: "It is a dream, come true, for me to make my debut at my home ground as also play my first Test with Sachin Tendulkar in the same side.
"I would like to dedicate my debut performance to him as well as to my family who have yearned hard to support me all the way through to playing international cricket. I didn’t do anything special, just concentrated on my line and length. This is what I do irrespective of the format and the colour of the ball."
© Cricket World 2013