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Seven-star Ashwin spins India to massive win

West Indies keels over for 231 to go down by an innings and 92 runs with a day to spare in first Test

Seven-star Ashwin spins India to massive win - Cricket News
Ashwin picked up 7 for 83.
The job that was well begun by India’s fast bowlers was properly done by the slow men at the business end of the first Test against West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in St John’s. Winning by the comfortable margin of an innings and 92 runs on Sunday’s (July 24) fourth day, India took a 1-0 lead in the four-match series, and more importantly, sounded a loud and clear warning to the opposition.
 
After mustering only 243 in the first innings, even die-hard West Indian fans found it hard to keep the faith and with every passing hour, the dire reality of approaching defeat loomed larger. While the mismatch in ability is something West Indies can’t really do anything about – it can only field the personnel available to it – the players need to do a better job of proving that they are just as hungry for success as any other team.
 
Beginning the day with nine wickets still in hand, there was a slim, and perhaps unrealistic, expectation that enough partnerships could be strung together to push the game into the fifth day. A passing shower before lunch helped the home team’s cause, but, much like the batting, it was too little, too late as it was bowled out for 231, a little after tea.
 
Darren Bravo, the first obstacle standing in India’s way as West Indies resumed on 21 for 1, was a touch loose outside off-stump to Umesh Yadav and a thick edge that flew fast and low was adeptly caught by Ajinkya Rahane diving to his left. Rajendra Chandrika and Marlon Samuels attempted to begin the rearguard and were successful for a time. Samuels enjoyed more than his fair share of luck, however, edging Mohammed Shami to Wriddhiman Saha, who continued to have a good match, diving forward to complete the catch.
 
Unsighted by the batsman, Ian Gould, the umpire, consulted with Aleem Dar at square-leg and when the pair could not be decisively sure that the ball had carried to the ’keeper, asked for assistance from Gregory Brathwaite, the third umpire. Despite having multiple replays at hand, there was no single sequence that offered an unobstructed view and the third umpire declared Samuels not out. Virat Kohli was visibly displeased, but fortunately for the Indian captain, relief was at hand.
 
Bowling from the Sir Andy Roberts End, R Ashwin (7/83) used a strong crosswind to great effect, getting the ball to drift appreciably. One such ball broke sharply, taking the edge of Chandrika’s bat on the way to Saha via pad. Dar’s finger went up without hesitation and suddenly, Ashwin was a different bowler.
 
Early success and excellent rhythm ensured that the oohs and aahs became more frequent, the appeals more vociferous and in turn, the batsmen more tentative. Jermaine Blackwood bagged a pair, drawn into a flick by an Ashwin ball that curled through the air and dipped at the last moment, defeating the batsman’s attempt to play into the turf. Diving at short midwicket, Kohli completed an acrobatic catch, and just like his batting earlier, made a tough job look ridiculously easy.
 
Ashwin saved his best for the most stubborn batsman of the day. Samuels, having reached an even 50, was set up perfectly. A big spinning off-break was followed by the more subtle flighted delivery. As Samuels covered for the turn, the ball drifted just enough to elude the outside edge, but not so much that it would miss off-stump.
 
At 101 for 5, West Indies more or less ran out of fight. Roston Chase popped a catch off Ashwin to short-leg and Amit Mishra then joined the party, trapping Shane Dowrich in front of the stumps with a googly that the batsman failed to read.
 
Tail up and eager to get his name on the honours board, Ashwin kept the pressure up and he would not be denied. Jason Holder, who could not contribute significantly with the ball, failed to make up with the bat. Attempting an ambitious booming drive off Ashwin, Holder left the gate between bat and pad so wide open that the bowler could’ve squeezed a scooter through, leave alone a little red ball.
 
While there will be tougher opposition to bowl to in the years to come, Ashwin will have enjoyed this effort thoroughly. For long, he has had to endure the occasionally unfair criticism that he did not do enough with the ball in Tests outside the sub-continent, and now, he can legitimately claim to have ticked that box.
 
Carlos Brathwaite, batting at No. 9 but clearly capable of climbing up the ranks, was initially all at sea against Mishra, unable to pick the googly and responding with premeditated heaves that missed the ball by a long way. When he did settle down, however, Brathwaite showed what he was capable of, fetching an Ashwin off-break and depositing it neatly over the stands at long-off. The shot was so well struck that it drew an appreciative smile from the bowler.
 
Brathwaite became the first West Indian to score at least a half-century in each of his first three Tests. Devendra Bishoo, who provided sturdy resistance, shared in a 95-run partnership with Brathwaite and it took one final push from Ashwin to get India over the line. Bishoo found the fielder at midwicket and when Shannon Gabriel was bowled by yet another drifting beauty, Ashwin ended with figures of 7 for 83, and India’s cup of joy had run over.