Roseau, Dominica: Ravichandran Ashwin’s five-wicket haul highlighted a dominant day for India as the visitors reached 80 without loss at stumps after bundling out the West Indies for 150 on the first day of the opening Test in Dominica on Wednesday.
Omitted for the World Test Championship final against Australia a month earlier, the 36-year-old spinner snared 5-60 off 24.3 overs to leave home captain Kraigg Brathwaite regretting the decision to bat first on winning the toss.
Ashwin got excellent support from fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja (3-26) with the only resistance of note coming from debutant batsman Alick Athanaze, who at least gave the home fans something to smile about as the 24-year-old left-handed Dominican stroked his way to 47 before being eighth out just before the tea interval.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, one of two Indian debutants, then joined Rohit Sharma in an unbroken opening stand against a varied bowling attack which hardly threatened and does not bode well for a Caribbean team going into day two with Jaiswal on 40, his captain on 30 and a very experienced and confident batting line-up to follow.
“There was a bit of moisture on the pitch early on but it started to turn a bit more as the day went on, even though it was quite slow,” Ashwin observed in reflecting on his effort, his 33rd five-wicket innings haul in Tests.
“International cricket is all about adapting, trying to seek excellence and trying to improve all the time.”
Ashwin was brought into action after just 40 minutes’ play with India’s opening bowlers appearing frustrated on a pitch offering very little assistance.
He responded immediately by bowling Tagenarine Chanderpaul and then forcing Brathwaite into an ugly miscue which effectively set the tone for an abysmal batting effort by the home side.
Athanaze impressed with his composure and shot-making but with wickets tumbling around him, he fell just short of the half-century mark, an attempted pull off Ashwin presenting a simple skied catch to Shardul Thakur at mid-on.
He featured in the only meaningful partnership of the innings, 41 for the sixth wicket with Jason Holder before Mohammed Siraj induced the former captain into a pull for Thakur to take the catch at deep square-leg.
Siraj had earlier taken a stunning leaping catch at mid-off on the stroke of lunch when Jermaine Blackwood attempted a lofted drive at Jadeja.
Thakur also had his share of success with the ball in the morning, disposing of Raymon Reifer via a low catch to Ishan Kishan, India’s other debutant.
However the wicketkeeper’s glovework was often untidy standing up to the spinners and is already raising questions about the wisdom of the decision to omit the incumbent gloveman Srikar Bharat.
In the final over of the day, Jaiswal had the audacity to reverse sweep left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican for a boundary, putting an exclamation point on a dominant day for India and making a statement of intent going into day two.