A clinical India proved too good for the West Indies in the two-match series and began their campaign in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship in style. The Indians wrapped up both Tests within four days riding on some fine batting performances by the middle order duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari and quality fast bowling by the sensational Jasprit Bumrah and the ever improving Ishant Sharma.
The fact that the series was wrapped up without a century from the Indian top order will gladden the hearts of the team management. Opener Mayank Agarwal notched up a half-century from four outings, while it was a series of rare failure for the Saurashtra run machine Cheteshwar Pujara, as he could not manage a single fifty. Agarwal’s opening partner K L Rahul too failed to produce a single half-century. Virat Kohli, who bettered M S Dhoni’s record of most number of Test wins (27) as India captain in the second Test at Kingston, Jamaica, was also dismissed cheaply twice though he went past the 50-run mark twice in the series.
Indian vice-captain Rahane ended a two-year century drought in the first Test at North Sound in Antigua. Rahane’s 81 on the first day of the series had saved India from a batting collapse and the gritty batsman underlined his value in testing conditions yet again.
The Indian think tank deserves credit for sticking with Vihari ahead of Rohit Sharma in the playing eleven. The Andhra batsman has cemented his place by emerging the top run-getter (289) in the series. It is interesting that both Rahane and Vihari hit a hundred and two fifties each in the series besides walking away with the man-of-the-match award in the first and second Test respectively.
Bumrah, Ishant on fire
Bumrah and Ishant wreaked havoc with the ball. Veteran Ishant set the tone by bagging 5/43 to bowl out the Windies for 222 in the first innings at North Sound, while Bumrah did a demolition job in the second innings as he picked up 5/7. Bumrah also became the first Asian fast bowler to pick up five-wicket hauls in South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies in the process.
The Gujarat pacer notched up the third hat-trick for India in the second Test. Bumrah’s bowling was of the highest order in the series as he made the ball to swing both ways at a lively pace.
It was a memorable series for Ishant, who also made vital runs down the order. The Delhi player added 60 for the eighth wicket in the company of Ravindra Jadeja at North Sound, and put on 112, again for the eighth wicket, along with Vihari at Kingston. He also registered his maiden Test fifty at Kingston.
Pacer Mohammed Shami and all-rounder Jadeja too pulled their weight. Shami played the supporting role to perfection while Jadeja made a vital 58 in the first innings of the opening Test.
India next meet South Africa at home and Kohli’s men are in red-hot form. India look near invincible in the subcontinent at the moment and the real challenge for them will be the two-match away series against the Kiwis early next year.