Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Shami registered his maiden five-wicket haul on debut
Debutants Mohammed Shami, who took nine wickets, and Rohit Sharma, who smashed 177, helped India demolish the West Indies by an innings and 51 runs on the third day of the first Test in Kolkata.
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also deserves some credit as well as he not only recorded his highest Test score, but also took five wickets.
Starting the day on 354/6, Sharma and Ashwin, who were unbeaten on 127 and 92 respectively, converted their magnificent 198-run partnership into a fantastic 280-run partnership, during which Ashwin registered his second Test century and Sharma surpassed the 150-run mark, before Sharma was given out lbw off the bowling of Veerasammy Permaul.
Sharma’s outstanding knock of 177 came off 301 balls and included 23 boundaries and a six.
Sharma’s innings of 177 is the second-highest score by an Indian batsman on debut and the highest score for a number six batsman on debut.
Sharma and Ashwin’s 280-run partnership is also the highest seventh wicket stand for India, beating the unbeaten 259-run partnership between VVS Laxman and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni against South Africa at Eden Gardens in 2010.
Ashwin was dismissed just a few overs later as he was clean bowled by Shane Shillingford for 124 off 210 deliveries, which included 11 boundaries.
Thanks to Sharma and Ashwin, India went on to score 453 before being bowled out, giving them a 219-run lead over the West Indies.
Shillingford was pick of the West Indian bowlers with a six-wicket haul, while Permaul snapped up two wickets and Tino Best and Sheldon Cottrell chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Shillingford’s six-wicket haul was the second-best bowling figures for a visiting spinner at Eden Gardens.
Legendary Australia all-rounder Richie Benaud still holds on to the top spot with figures of 6/52 in 1956.
Trailing by 219 runs, the West Indies got off to a rocky start as opening batsman Chris Gayle was caught out off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 33.
A 68-run partnership between Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo made up for the early loss of Gayle.
However, the partnership was ended when Powell was given out lbw to Ashwin for 36.
All-rounder Marlon Samuels, who scored a brilliant half-century in the first innings, was given out lbw off the bowling of Shami in the very next over for just four runs.
Samuels’ dismissal led to West Indies’ middle and lower order, with the exception of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, collapsing under the pressure of the Indian bowling attack.
In the 49th over of West Indies’ second innings, Shami nearly picked up a hat-trick as he dismissed captain Darren Sammy off the second ball of the over before removing Shillingford and Permaul off the fourth and fifth ball of the over.
Shami put the West Indies out of their misery by flattening Cottrell’s middle stump.
Chanderpaul finished unbeaten on 31 as the West Indies were bowled out for a dreary 168.
Shami registered his maiden five-wicket haul, while Ashwin picked up three wickets and Kumar chipped in with one wicket as well.
Shami’s match figures of 9/118 are also the second-best by an Indian bowler on debut.
Only Narendra Hirwani has a better record, taking 16/136 against the West Indies in Chennai in 1988.
Ashwin also became the first Indian player to score a century and take five wickets in a Test match on two different occasions.
This is the first time in history that India have won five Test matches in a row.
Sammy was disappointed that his team had given up their advantage over the Indians without any sort of fight.
“We get ourselves in good positions in Tests and then we give it away,” he said. “Even when India were batting, we were in a good position at lunch yesterday and then we gave it away.
“Getting bowled out in 60-70 overs is not good. One of our goals was to bat at least a 120 overs and we didn’t do that. I think credit must go to Shillingford, he bowled long long spells, to bowl 50 overs is a lot. The other bowlers should have backed him up more, myself included. The combination is one we have used in the Caribbean but we’ll see what the best XI for Mumbai is.”
Dhoni was pleased to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series and praised Shami, Ashwin and Sharma for their outstanding performances.
“I think this was a fantastic performance, the second day was the worst to bat and it became a better wicket as the match progressed,” he said. “It was the disciplined bowling that helped up. Shami was fantastic, he got the right length and that was the reason he got nine wickets. You need a bit of pace if you want to dominate, he has very good seam positioning which means he can reverse away from the right-handers too. On a wicket that has more bounce he can move the ball both ways. It is good to see how Rohit has batted, he is very talented but it is good to see it on the field.”
Sharma was named Man of the Match ahead of Shami for his spectacular 177 on debut.
“All I can say, it [the wait to make debut] was worth it, it can’t get better than this, such a memorable match, really happy with what we have achieved,” he said. “We knew we had to extend the partnership as much as we can to get a lead. It wasn’t easy to bat, runs weren’t coming easy, we just wanted to stick out there and capitalise on loose balls. I really love playing at Eden Gardens, the crowd was amazing … it’s been a really memorable ground for me.”