India vs West Indies 2013: Analysis of 1st Test at Eden Gardens

Rohit Sharma’s approach towards batting has transformed completely and he is no more a ‘talented’ batsman frittering away the advantage. The patience and application he showed in his debut innings speaks volumes about his maturity © IANS

It took just three days for India to thrash West Indies in the first Test in Kolkata. With a festive atmosphere celebrating Sachin Tendulkar’s 199th Test at the Eden Gardens, it was an apt occasion for two debutants to rise to the moment and lead India to victory. Abhijit Banare looks back at the fifth successive Test win for India describing all the events that changed the course of the game.
Rohit Sharma’s converts talent into consistency

At the press conference after his unbeaten 141 at Jaipur in the mammoth chase of 360 against Australia, Rohit Sharma said to journalists, “I think more than me, you guys were getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting a hundred.” If Rohit goes on to ask every person who followed his career, he would realise that it’s not just the journalists who were frustrated. Ian Bishop made a short comment after the match which hints at what Rohit’s future would be like. He said that Brian Lara could have made his debut two years earlier than he eventually did. But the painful wait to get his rightful due fired him to such an extent that Lara’s hunger to perform when he got the chance was higher than anyone could ask for. The same could be with Rohit.

The delightful shots, which pushes every viewer to applaud, blended perfectly with the determination to put a price on his wicket. The elusive sync has been discovered and Rohit can only add more glories from here on.

His 177 was in stark contrast with the double century he hit just a match earlier [in a one-day match against Australia]. The patience and craft with which he shaped his innings under trying circumstances speaks volumes of his improved maturity. Even the post-Day Two press conference by Rohit sounded as though the talent has escalated into a new zone of fine attitude and consistency.

For long, we have waited to say this but finally when Rohit comes to bat now, there will be an assured comment that would drop in saying, “If Rohit’s there then things will be fine.” You know with which legend such a sentence is usually associated to!

India vs West Indies 2013: Analysis of 1st Test at Eden Gardens

Mohammed Shami has created a new hope for India’s quest for a genuine fast bowler. On his debut Shami registered nine for 118 — the second best bowling figures by an Indian on Test debut © IANS

Mohammed Shami creates ripples

When was the last time you saw a young fast bowler from India running in hard and knocking down the stumps at 140-plus kmph? It was a sight to watch Mohammed Shami bowling accurately giving every batsman a hard time to face him. There were various signs that Shami presented of a quality pace bowler. He made his India debut against Pakistan in a One-Day International (ODI). Even then, he showed no signs of nervousness or pressure. During the Test debut he thrived on the rhythm he generated with his pace and accuracy and was dissolved in it till the last wicket fell. That intensity is something the captain and selectors would love Shami to sustain consistently. On his debut Shami registered nine for 118 — the second best bowling figures by an Indian on test debut.

More than the five-wicket haul in the second innings, what really mattered was the way in which he made Shivnarine Chanderpaul uncomfortable with his deliveries that pitched on the middle-stump and had the experienced batsman defending it as awkwardly as his stance. And the best part is, the pacer will be heading to Wankhede Stadium where there is enough zip in the pitch to further rattle the batsmen. Sometimes destiny sets up your hard work perfectly. Shami, in all likelihood, will tour to countries where pacers have had huge success. And with the confidence he has earned, there is a fine opportunity to cement his place in the side.
Shane Shillingford bowls for a six-for until he drops tired

It was such an ironical match for Shane Shillingford. He bowled his heart out and reaped good success. Yet at the end of the day his efforts were washed away thanks to a dominating performance by the Indians. At times it seemed the match was between the off-spinner and the entire Indian team.

The fatigue towards the end of the second day was evident. Just in his 11th Test match, Darren Sammy used him to such an extent that even his good deliveries landed as mediocre ones for the set batsmen — Rohit and Ravichandran Ashwin. The more Shillingford succeeded, the more it exposed the lack of support from the other end despite fielding five bowlers. As far as his performance was concerned, the visitors will be satisfied to have a frontline spinner who has the ability to give a tough time to batsmen in conditions where he was really expected to thrive. The dismissals of Murali Vijay and Sachin Tendlkar were examples of the batsmen beaten completely.

India vs West Indies 2013: Analysis of 1st Test at Eden Gardens

Ravichandran Ashwin’s (above) elegance and timing drew comparisons with Rohit Sharma and VVS Laxman’s batting © IANS

Ravichandran Ashwin — the solid batsman at No 8

You can’t be blamed for allowing that urge to compare Ravichandran Ashwin’s batting with timing and elegance of Rohit and VVS Laxman’s. It feels awkward to refer him as a No 8 batsman as by no means he is in the same cadre you would associate with batsmen who come at that position to play. If Ashwin turns out to be a reliable batsman at that position, an opportunity of having five bowlers in the side will open up for MS Dhoni.

India’s past record at No 8 includes some feats by Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Kapil Dev scoring couple of centuries. And Ashwin is completely different from the three mentioned above. The calmness and the matured way in which he composes his innings is a treat to watch. Some his best innings have come under conditions when the top-order batsmen have struggled.

And nothing pumps up the confidence of a player than succeeding in conditions and situations where the tide is against them.

India vs West Indies 2013: Analysis of 1st Test at Eden Gardens

The ball his Sachin tendulkar’s back leg. From front angle it looked close but from side-on the ball was missing the stumps © IANS

Nigel Llong gets a lot of it wrong!

Only Steve Bucknor could understand what Nigel Llong would have felt after the Eden Gardens match. There’s not much hospitality you can expect from the cricket fans if you have wrongly given Sachin Tendulkar out. And things turn even serious if it happens to be the 199th Test. To be fair, even the best of umpires in the world would have felt the itch to raise the finger when you see that moment from the front. The ball travelling past outside of the bat and hitting the back leg. More often than not the latter is a clear indication of a leg-before unless he is facing a fast bowler standing way outside the crease. And as it is rightly said, the umpires don’t have the luxury of a replay from various angles.

However, Llong could have been spared for that one-off decision if he hadn’t committed a series of errors. Virat Kohli’s decision that followed was equally contentious. And then there were sharp leg-before calls which were turned down to the bowler’s frustration. No feeling is worse for a bowler when he knows it is out and the umpire says no. Even a plumb leg-before appeal from Tendulkar was turned down. Marlon Samuels was at the receiving end too. At the end of the day, the deliberate averse behaviour to technology will have to be blamed as equally as many of the errors could have been avoided.

India vs West Indies 2013: Analysis of 1st Test at Eden Gardens

Fans cheered for Sachin Tendulkar all day long even though the maestro couldn’t provide much entertainment with the bat © IANS

Sachin Tendulkar moment of the Test?

And finally comes the discussion over the Little Master. Defying all expectations, Sachin Tendulkar’s magic moment probably was the wicket of Shane Shillingford. Not many would have expected Dhoni to hand the ball to Tendulkar — the leg-spinner. And when he did, it was enough for the spectators to justify themselves to go berserk. And when the ball zipped straight, hitting the pads of Shillingford, the photographers had an opportunity to again witness the child-like enthusiasm of Tendulkar appealing for the leg-before.

However hard you try to stop the moment, the final Test is soon approaching. One can just hope the maestro bows out on a high. With West Indies dipping in confidence after the loss, a victory for India in the last Test will perfectly sum up the emotional farewell.

In Photos: Sachin Tendulkar’s 199th Test at Eden Gardens

In Photos: India vs West Indies 1st Test at Eden Gardens

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)