The Antigua Test is unlikely to be remembered for anything other than some boring cricket but for some of the Indian players, this was a Test that would play a key role in determining their future. As India secured 60 easy Championship points, here are the Winners and Losers from the game.
He didn’t urge anyone to pick him in the team, he knocked the door down with his performances before the selectors were forced to pick him in the side for the Windies home series in October last year. Almost a year down the line, things have become pretty clearer for Agarwal, with him being the first-choice opener in the side, but his performance with the India shirt is anything but earth-shattering so far.
However, that must have intrigued you that how come he is on the list of our winners and we have given it a clear thought while putting this. Hanuma Vihari’s conversion rate was a problem for the Indian team and even though they tried him at the top, it didn’t really help the cause. As Vihari moved down the order, it put things in place and he emerged as one of India’s brightest hopes with a solid 93. In turn, Agarwal’s place is safe in the side, at least for the second Test in Jamaica.
It was a dispirited performance by the entire Windies team but if one man can broaden his chest to say he had done whatever was asked and then some more, it has to be Kemar Roach. He put up an exhibition of fast bowling in the first inning, snapping up four wickets in the process, and seemed like the only bowler who was posing any challenge to the Indian batsmen. To get a fair idea, he conceded just 29 runs in 20 overs and even though he managed only one wicket in those overs, he had a fairly successful and satisfactory outing.
All said and done, the greatest Roach moment, for me, was the way he batted in the fourth innings. With Windies being nine down, Kemar Roach hit as many as five sixes for an enterprising 38 off 31 deliveries. Never a natural with the bat, the amount of strength that he showed against the hostile duo of Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah made things quite interesting and even though that led to nothing, Roach became a sudden cult hero.
When it comes to backing his own players, it is often weird to understand Virat Kohli’s thought process. After backing Kuldeep Yadav as the primary spinner in the World Cup, he suddenly moved away from him and started with only Yuzvendra Chahal. However, in Test cricket, more often than not, he is sure about what he wants and that reflected in his team selection. Although everyone and their pet dog was deeply frustrated about Ajinkya Rahane’s form, Kohli didn’t field an XI without his deputy in it.
While everyone was sure that Ravichandran Ashwin would chart a comeback with some success in familiar territory, Kohli fielded Ravindra Jadeja instead, making him a troll on Twitter. However, given the way things panned out in Antigua, the Indian skipper can sleep easy. With 183 runs from one game, Rahane silenced many calls while Ravindra Jadeja brought his sword celebration with all his might as India took away 60 championship points with them.
If I ever had to pick one player in all the years of watching cricket as the unluckiest Test cricketer, I will surely pick Rohit Sharma. The general perception of him not having the potential to be a good player in Test cricket worked against his chances and the odd failure resulted in Rohit never being a regular in the Indian team. He had a chance to cement a place in the Windies series, and many thought he would be picked ahead of Ajinkya Rahane.
But the Rohit build up flipped big-time as the Indian Test vice-captain scored 81 and 102 in the first Test to ensure whose name will be there for the second Test in Jamaica. Considering Rahane was not in form for the last three years now, Rohit should have been ahead of the pecking order. Hanuma Vihari’s second-innings score of 93 runs also worked against his chances as Rohit might end up seeing everyone building a house of their own and he is watching them from a distance.
In 2017, when Ravindra Jadeja dethroned Ravichandran Ashwin from the No.1 bowling position in the ICC rankings, it was a symbolic change of guard. Ashwin was brilliant at home until that point and had orchestrated a fine series win in the Windies, but his reputation started fading away with the emergence of a new crop of spinners, and the rise of Jadeja as a pure all-rounder.
However, Jadeja’s recent heroics gave him a chance ahead of his more illustrious counterpart and now, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder, despite being one of India’s greatest all-rounders, would have to sit in the dug-out and serve the drinks. With the home series looming, India might play two spinners alongside Vihari, and going by Ravi Shastri’s assessment, one shouldn’t be surprised if they pick Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav and keep Ashwin in stand-by.
The way West Indies played against Sri Lanka and surely the series win against England was sufficient to give fans hope about the resurgence of their Test team. The likes of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, and of course, the leader of men, Jason Holder added thrill to it and many former cricketers started becoming excited about West Indies cricket once again. However, as the first Test suggests, it was nothing but a pure fluke.
It wasn’t like Indians were persistent in the entire game. They had their loose moments and had Windies been a bit more careful, there was a significant amount of advantage to be gained there. After the first day, once the help from the wicket became minimal, the pacers also threw in the towel, asking Roston Chase to continue, in an almost clueless manner. All in all, everything contributed toward the making of a boring Test match and those Windies fans, who had been excited about the format’s rebirth in the country, slept scratching their heads.
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