A Jasprit Bumrah masterclass in yorkers floored Windies completely before a short Shimron Hetmyer cameo salvaged some pride for the hosts, who ended the day with 87/7 in reply to India's 416. While Bumrah took the cake, Hanuma Vihari's performance was too good to be left out without a mention.
Pace without substance doesn’t make a difference
Shannon Gabriel has raw pace and to be very precise, he is the third fastest bowler in the world, as per Cricviz, after Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. However, one might question what is the use of the pace when you average 30.42 despite, more often than not, playing against lower-ranked teams? Yes, that is true and the record is not skewed in his favour. But, that undermines the fact that the Trinidadian thrills like the past Caribbean bowlers and in the form of him, Windies have a pace spearhead who can put the fear of God in batsmen.
However, at Kingston, he wasn’t the same bowler as the world has fallen in love with, in the last couple of years. The second day saw hardly any amount of swing, and the control factor had become the most important thing. In that scenario, the Windies spearhead needed to control his intuition and instead of searching for the negligible amount of swing available, he could have gone for the seam movement that Jason Holder was exploiting in the beginning. His side-on action turned out to be another detriment as Hanuma Vihari and Ishant Sharma weren’t at all fussed in leaving the balls to the safe hands of Jahmar Hamilton. Could certainly have been more confident and tried something unique.
Ishant - the link to India’s resurrection
He didn’t need any more validation of what great help he could be to any batsman looking to stabilise things. Probably the most efficient tail-ender with zero traces of cavalier attitude towards his batting, Ishant Sharma’s heroics with the bat will find a spot in Indian cricket history. Not for a moment, even in his failed attempt to hit a six towards the backend of the innings, Ishant lacked the intention of fruitfully capitalising on things and ended up having another good day with the bat.
What stands out is not only his capabilities but rather his willingness to survive. At times, that was borderline ugly but by putting a price on his wicket, Ishant ensured that he gave Indian batsmen what Jason Gillespie used to give in the Australian team of the lore. A straight bat defense, a forward press to negate the movement and most importantly, the understanding of where his off-stump was, made Ishant’s innings a special one, and now, he has earned the right to demand to be ahead of Mohammed Shami in the pecking order - both in batting and bowling.
Hanuma Vihari proves a point
Ahead of the Test series, it was a straight shoot-out of sorts between Rohit Sharma and Hanuma Vihari for the Number 6 role and there was hardly anything to differentiate. While the Mumbaikar was fresh off a World Cup campaign in which he made a record five centuries, Vihari scored 55 and 118* in the second unofficial Test against Windies A. In India's warm-up match in Coolidge, Rohit made 68 in his only innings while Vihari batted twice, scoring an unbeaten 37 in the first innings and 64 in the second and coming to the first Test, both had genuine claims to be ahead of the other in the pecking order.
Keeping Vihari’s handy off-spin in mind, the team management preferred him in the squad and what a decision it has turned out to be so far! After a solid 93 at North Sound, Vihari had a chance to prove that that innings was not a fluke by any means and having Ishant Sharma for company, the Andhra cricketer stood tall to his growing reputation. With a straight bat, he negated most of the threats posed by Rahkeem Cornwall and with Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel rendering ineffective for most parts of the innings, Vihari’s innings became a tad easier. However, take nothing away, it was an innings to prove a point, and boy, didn’t he just do that today?
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