Roston Chase and Jason Holder struck solid half-centuries in a rare show of grit from the visitors as the first day of the second Test between India and Windies at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad finished in an even keel.
India struck early, but Chase and Dowrich, and later Holder ensured the hosts did not run away with the game. When stumps were drawn on the first day’s play, Windies were 295 for 7 after 95 overs. Chase remained unbeaten on 98 and had Devendra Bishoo for company on 2.
Batting first in conditions ripe for batting, Windies started off positively with Kraigg Brathwaite slamming Umesh Yadav for a for a four first ball of the Test and then clipping him neatly off his pads in the same over to collect eight of the first over.
Shardul Thakur, for whom the day started quite brightly after he received his maiden Test cap, ended quite bitterly just 10 balls into his spell after a groin strain forced him off the field.
R Ashwin, brought into the attack earlier than he would have expected, then didn’t take much time to strike, getting rid of Keiron Powell (22) who was caught at covers going for a lofted drive.
Shai Hope and Brathwaite thwarted the Indian attack for a brief while before the latter missed a leg-break from Kuldeep Yadav only to be trapped right in front of the stumps for 14.
Shimron Hetmyer, batting at No.4, had little inkling of which direction the ball was turning as he set about looking for the big heaves from the word go. He got lucky when a top edge flew just wide of the backward point before he found the middle of his bat by thumping fours off Umesh and Ravindra Jadeja.
Hope, on the other end, looked much more solid. He looked the only one to read the spinners well and found the boundaries at every given chance. His luck though ran out in the last over before the interval when an in-dipper from Umesh trapped him lbw for 36 as Windies went into lunch at 86 for 3.
Wickets continued to tumble post the interval with Windies losing Hetmyer and Sunil Ambris in quick succession. Hetmyer fell first as he failed to read a wrong’un from Kuldeep ending up offering no shot to a delivery coming in only to be struck right in front of middle stump.
Ambris, like in the first Test, started going for his shots straight away. He struck three fours but was soon dismissed when he went for one shot too many only to be caught failing to read a Kuldeep wrong’un popping a simple catch to Jadeja at cover.
At 113 for 5, it seemed another capitulation was in order. But, Chase, who has by far looked the best batsman for the Windies on tour, along with Shane Dowrich ensured that did not happen. Both batsmen did not curb their natural stroke play but played intelligently with Chase, in particular, mixing defence with aggression rather well. He took a liking to Jadeja with the left-armer not getting his lengths on point for a change.
The duo added 69 runs for the sixth wicket before Umesh struck again, trapping Dowrich lbw with his trademark in-swinger for 30.
Chase, however, looking increasingly comfortable, soon reached his seventh Test half-century and found an able ally in Holder as Windies reached tea at 197 for 6. The hour after the interval proved to be the best of the tour so far for the visitors. Holder showed just why he was the fulcrum of this Windies side as he along with Chase put their heads down to take their side to a respectable score.
Holder struck six fours on his way to an eighth Test fifty before Umesh struck yet again, this time with the new ball. The pacer dug the ball short and Holder, who had played the pull so well till the time, only managed a glove down to Rishabh Pant for 52. The 104-run stand between him and Chase was easily Windies’ best for the series so far.
Chase survived a few nervous moments before the end of the day’s play but to his credit remained unscathed.
For India, Umesh and Kuldeep picked up three wickets each.