Sharma Debut Ton Puts India Ahead
Rohit Sharma hit a century on debut to help India into a healthy lead over the West Indies on day two of the first Test in Kolkata.
Replying to 234, India were 83 for five when Sharma came to the crease, but his unbeaten 127 and Ravichandran Ashwin's 92 not out helped the home side close on 354 for six, ahead by 120 runs.
Sachin Tendulkar made 10 before he was trapped in front by Shane Shillingford but by becoming the 14th Indian to hit a century on Test debut, Sharma has put his side in the driving seat with three days remaining.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay started the day, hoping to replicate the patience they displayed in the last hour of play the previous evening, but it wasn’t to be, for the pitch had some devilish plans of its own. Shillingford (4-130) took complete advantage of the conditions and duly ripped apart the Indian top order.
Dhawan (23) was the first to go, chopping one back to the leg stump, with only five runs added to the overnight score of 37.
Cheteshwar Pujara was next in and started briskly, but Vijay (26) was stumped at the other end, again off Shillingford. That was what the half-filled Eden Gardens was waiting for, because the second dismissal of the morning meant Sachin Tendulkar coming out to bat.
And when he did, in his penultimate match, he was given a raucous reception. He started off well, with two boundaries to midwicket, amidst carefully countering the West Indian attack. At the other end though, Sheldon Cottrell (1-53) bounced out Pujara (17).
With no room left to manoeuvre his head, he played an uncharacteristic shot over the keeper’s head and it didn’t work, resulting in an edge.
A warm applause welcomed Virat Kohli to the crease. Before he could get going, more pressure was heaped on his shoulders, as umpire Nigel Llong broke a billion hearts adjudging Tendulkar out for 10 runs.
The doosra from Shillingford seemed to be going over the off stump. He batted a total of 41 minutes.
Sharma then came out to bat in his debut Test in stunned silence. Kohli’s stay at the wicket was brief as he was out caught at forward short leg, after a delivery from Shillingford looped up. He made three runs and India went to lunch at 120 for five.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sharma went about a repair job, with the Indian skipper looking to use a counter-attacking approach. And it worked, as the duo put on 73 runs for the sixth wicket, putting the Indian collapse on hold. Dhoni scored 42 runs, facing 63 balls and hitting five fours, before he edged behind to Dinesh Ramdin off Tino Best (1-53).
That brought out Aswhin, whose previous Test innings against the West Indies was a hundred scored in Mumbai in 2011.
And he followed that up again today, proving to be able partner for Sharma, who was gaining in confidence and picking up the run-making pace as he went along. They took India to tea at 229 for six, looking to regain control of the match once again.
After tea, Rohit went on to complete his maiden Test hundred and join his colleagues Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina as the ones before him to achieve this feat. At stumps, he was batting on 127 runs, having faced 228 deliveries, and hitting 16 fours and one six.
Ashwin meanwhile completed his half-century as well and will aspire to add another century to his name, starting from 92 not out.
Select quotes from the press conference:
Rohit Sharma: "I love playing at Eden Gardens. I made my Ranji debut here and then became the Mumbai Indians captain here, then won the IPL here. Now my Test debut has come here and I have got a maiden hundred as well.
"I am very happy, after waiting so long. I always knew I would get an opportunity and I was certain to make it count.
"Both Ashwin and I are batting well at the moment, and we need to carry on tomorrow morning. If we can bat till lunch, and then maybe a bit more we can extend our lead and get into a winning position in this match, with three days remaining."
Shane Shillingford: "My stint with Saqlain Mustaq really helped me. The pitch was doing a little bit since yesterday, so overnight I made up my plans and tried to work on them. It is easier to grip the older ball, but I was happy bowling with the newer one as well. I just tried to vary my pace and bowl in the right areas, and let the ball do its own thing.
"About Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal, well, we were very excited in the middle when he got hit on the pads. Later I saw the replay. But my job is to appeal so that’s what I did.
"The match is still very open and anything can happen tomorrow. We need to bowl a little better in the morning as the pitch eased out after lunch today."
© Cricket World 2013