West Indies in dire straits, early end looms

Sachin Tendulkar, the most prolific batsman in international cricket, walked on to the field to a rousing reception from his home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.  

The Sachin Tendulkar Farewell Test should go India’s way unless West Indies raises the bar on the third day. It would appear a preposterous thought, considering Darren Sammy’s side finished the second day on 43 for three, after beginning its second innings 313 runs in arrears.

The West Indies’ approach was a huge let down for the spectators.

After a much rooted for Tendulkar hundred did not materialise, and the Wankhede Stadium was transformed into an arena of ennui.

The spectators’ interest fell considerably following Tendulkar’s dismissal in the first session, and the mundane fare bereft of competitive interest did not help matters either, centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma notwithstanding.

Pujara’s was his fifth Test century, and Rohit’s his second in succession.

True, the focus was on Tendulkar, his dismissal obviously causing deep anguish in the stands, but there was heartening stuff from Pujara and Rohit, the team’s leading batsmen of the future along with Virat Kohli.

Earlier, Pujara had flourished in the company of Tendulkar.

And Rohit took over the mantle as Sammy watched the game drift and finally land in India’s lap.

Resuming at 157 for two with the universal anticipation of a century from Tendulkar, India grew in strength and strangled the West Indies into submission.

There was an air of futility in every West Indian move, the players resigning themselves to absorb the punishment in the last session.

Old timers will struggle to remember a weaker West Indian team than this one to have toured India.

The day began energetically, with Tendulkar in an aggressive and adventurous mood. There was a distinct urge to get on with the job.

He began with a furious cut against the turn and then a paddle sweep from outside off against Shane Shillingford.

His obsession with the upper cut was bewildering, though. He attempted it twice against Tino Best, and failed to connect on both occasions.

There was a thrilling phase when Tendulkar entertained his fans.

A trademark straight drive to herald his half century was followed by a vintage punch off Best. The crowd loved every moment of this strokeplay.

There seemed a lot to look forward to as Tendulkar had warmed up.

And then came the fatal fling with the ball, a needless effort.

It was too close to the body to cut, and Tendulkar paid the penalty by edging it to slip.

For the crowd, the day’s cricket ended with this dismissal.

Pujara, who added 144 runs with Tendulkar for the third wicket, Kohli and Rohit built on the advantage and whipped the West Indian attack to place India in a commanding position.

Pujara was a picture of determination and once again showed he can be trusted to carry the innings on his shoulders.

His temperament stood out, and he was duly rewarded for his application.

Kohli picked his runs at will till he fell, beaten by the angle and taken at slip. The rest was a Rohit affair. He lost partners but prospered in the company of No.11 Mohammad Shami, the two adding 80 runs with Rohit contributing 65.

His feat placed him in the same category as Sourav Ganguly, who hit hundreds in his first two Tests at Lord’s and at Nottingham.

If he repeats the feat against South Africa at Johannesburg, Rohit will join the ranks of Mohammad Azharuddin, who made three successive centuries against England in 1984-85 at Kolkata, Chennai and Kanpur.

India’s domination was completed in the last session when it grabbed three wickets, with Kieran Powell’s departure after holing out to long off only underlining the lack of discipline in the West Indian ranks.

Like Kolkata, this contest too faces a result in three days.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 10:30:17 AM |

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