NORTH SOUND (Antigua): Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel struck early blows for the West Indies to have India labouring at 68 for three at lunch on the opening day of the first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound on Thursday.
Roach dismissed Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara in the same over while Gabriel accounted for the prized wicket of captain Virat Kohli to reduce the tourists to 25 for three after they were put in to bat by West Indies skipper Jason Holder.
However opening batsman K.L. Rahul found a resilient partner in Ajinkya Rahane with the pair adding 43 runs together by the interval. Rahul will resume on 37 and Rahane on ten in the afternoon session.
On a surface freshened by early morning rain and offering encouragement to the new ball bowlers, Roach induced edges from both Agarwal and Pujara for catches by wicketkeeper Shai Hope.
An ankle injury to regular gloveman Shane Dowrich resulted in his omission and left Hope, the first-choice wicket-keeper in limited-over matches, with the responsibilities behind the stumps for this match.
While Gabriel lacked Roach’s persistent accuracy, his extra pace continued to challenge India’s top order and brought him the reward of Kohli’s wicket when India’s champion batsman attempted to guide a lifting delivery through backward-point only for debutant Shamarh Brooks to take a tumbling catch at gully.
Brooks, a 30-year-old middle-order batsman and occasional leg-spinner, has filled the vacancy in the XI left by Dowrich’s unavailability.
West Indies were also required to draft in an additional replacement when all-rounder Keemo Paul was ruled out on the eve of the match through injury and his place was taken by paceman Miguel Cummins.
After dominating the preceding the Twenty20 and ODI series, India will be seeking to extend their dominance in the Caribbean with a team featuring three fast bowlers and one specialist spinner, Ravindra Jadeja getting the job ahead of Ravi Ashwin, the man-of-the-series when the tourists last played in the Caribbean three years ago.
There was also no place in the final XI for Rohit Sharma with Rahane and Hanuma Vihari preferred in the middle-order.
INDIA (1st Innings):
K.L. Rahul not out 37
M.A. Agarwal c Hope b Roach 5
C.A. Pujara c Hope b Roach 2
V. Kohli c Brooks b Gabriel 9
A.M. Rahane not out 10
EXTRAS (LB-4, NB-1) 5
TOTAL (for three wkts, 24 overs) 68
FALL OF WKTS: 1-5, 2-7, 3-25.
TO BAT: G.H. Vihari, R.R. Pant, R.A. Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, I. Sharma, J.J. Bumrah.
BOWLING (to-date): Roach 6-1-12-2; Gabriel 7-1-26-1 (1nb); Holder 6-4-8-0; Cummins 5-0-18-0.
WEST INDIES: K.C. Brathwaite, J.D. Campbell, S.D. Hope, D.M. Bravo, S.O. Hetmyer, R.L. Chase, J.O. Holder, S.S.J. Brooks, M.L. Cummins, K.A.J. Roach, S.T. Gabriel. UMPIRES: R.A. Kettleborough (England) and R.J. Tucker (Australia). TV UMPIRE: P.R. Reiffel (Australia). MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019