Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sharma scored an unbeaten century in his debut Test match
India batsman Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten century on debut gave his side a solid 120-run lead over the West Indies at the end of the second day of the first Test in Kolkata.
Sharma was well supported by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who remained undefeated on 92, as the pair registered an unbeaten 198-run partnership.
Starting out the day on 37/0, India’s opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were only able to add five runs onto their partnership before Dhawan was clean bowled by Shane Shillingford for 23.
Vijay followed soon after as he was stumped by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin for 26 to become Shillingford’s second victim of the day.
Vijay was also Shillingford’s 50th Test wicket, which came in 11 Test matches.
Shillingford is now tied second with Sonny Ramadhin on the list of the fastest West Indian spinners to take 50 Test wickets.
Alf Valentine is still atop the list after taking just eight Test matches to claim 50 wickets.
Meanwhile, Cheteshwar Pujara also failed with the bat as he only managed to score 17 runs before being caught behind off the bowling of debutant Sheldon Cottrell.
Eden Gardens was silenced in the very next over as Sachin Tendulkar was given out lbw for 10, despite replays showing that the ball would have gone over the stumps.
Only a few deliveries later, Shillingford claimed the wicket of Virat Kohli, who only managed to score three runs after coming off a brilliant ODI series against Australia, where he amassed 344 runs at an incredible average of 114.66.
With India struggling at 83/5, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sharma came to the rescue with a 73-run partnership before Dhoni was caught behind off the bowling of Tino Best for 42.
However, from this point on it was all India as Sharma and Ashwin stole the spotlight with their magnificent 198-run partnership.
Sharma registered his maiden Test century, while Ashwin recorded his fifth half-century.
Sharma ended the day on 127 off 228 balls, which included 16 boundaries and a six, while Ashwin finished on 92 off 148 deliveries, which included 10 boundaries.
Sharma’s unbeaten 127 is the highest score by a debutant at Eden Gardens and is currently the fourth-highest amongst all Indian batsmen on debut.
Only Shikhar Dhawan, who scored 187 against Australia at Mohali in 2013, Gundappa Viswanath, who scored 137 against Australia at Kanpur in 1969 and Sourav Ganguly, who scored 131 against England at Lord’s in 1996 have scored more runs on debut.
Meanwhile, Ashwin’s score of 92 not out is his second-highest in Test matches after the fantastic 103 he scored against the West Indies in Mumbai in 2011.
He also drew level with Dhoni and Syed Kirmani, both of whom have also scored five half-centuries while batting at number eight.
Only Harbhajan Singh, who has registered seven half-centuries, and the legendary Kapil Dev, who has recorded 13 half-centuries, have scored more half-centuries while batting at number eight.
India finished on 354/6 at the end of the second day, giving them a convincing 120-run lead over the West Indies.
Shillingford was the pick of the West Indian bowlers with four wickets, while Cottrell and Best chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Shillingford’s four-wicket haul is only the ninth time a West Indian spinner has taken four or more wickets against India in India.
The last West Indian spinner to accomplish this feat was Carl Hooper, who registered a five-wicket haul against India in Nagpur in 1994.
Sharma and Ashwin will resume their innings at 09:00 local time or 03:30 GMT.