India went into the Antigua Test as firm favourites to win the clash, and they stayed true to their reputation by pulling off an innings win on the fourth day of the Test on Sunday. In both the batting and bowling department, India outshone the hosts, and proved that they are way superior to the current West Indies outfit. The victory margin of an innings and 92 runs was a fair indication of the gulf between the two sides at present. And, the manner in which India outsmarted West Indies at Antigua, augurs very well for the future Tests.
There was hardly a foot India put wrong in the match, which basically means that there were many heroes for India in the match. With the bat, it was undoubtedly skipper Virat Kohli who stood out. The consistent Indian batsman had a poor tour of the country in 2011, and would have been looking forward to make amends. And, he did so in great fashion, with a sublime hundred. What stood out during Kohli’s innings in the match was his hunger for runs. In the past, he has been guilty of giving his wicket away after getting starts, but this time he carried on to get a memorable double hundred.
While Kohli was impressive, Ravichandran Ashwin was the standout performer of the match by some distance. He achieved the rare double of a Test hundred as well as a five-for in the same match. And, it was a performance worth remembering. Having gone wicketless in the first innings, Ashwin ran through the West Indies batting on the fourth day, to finish with excellent figures of 7 for 83. Earlier, with the bat, he notched up his third Test hundred, and third against West Indies as well. Not surprisingly, Ashwin ended up as the man of the match too.
There were good supporting contributions from a number of other players too. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami produced high quality bowling efforts in the first innings to keep West Indies down to a low total. There were question marks over India’s bowling attack since Yadav is not the most consistent around while Shami was returning from injury, and many wondered whether he would be fit to deliver. But, both performed credibly, although aided by some poor batting from West Indies they will be looking to continue their good run in the future games.
Shikhar Dhawan’s place as an opener was also under the scanner considering his poor recent run, and the rise of Lokesh Rahul. But, Dhawan has managed to keep his place secure for now with a hard-fought half-century although he will be disappointed at having missed out on a hundred. Amit Mishra too made contributions at crucial moments with both bat and ball. If anything, the form of Ishant Sharma will worry them. The pace spearhead, managed only one wicket across two innings. Much better will be expected of him in the future.
--By A Cricket Analyst