SEPTEMBER 3, 2019
Brief Scorecard: India 416 (Kohli 76, Vihari 111, Ishant 57, Holder 5-77, Cornwall 3-105) and 168 for 4 dec. (Rahane 64*, Vihari 53*, Roach 3-28) beat West Indies 117 (Hetmyer 34, Bumrah 6-27, Shami 2-34) and 210 (Brooks 50, Blackwood 38, Holder 39, Shami 3-65, Jadeja 3-58) by 257 runs
JAMAICA – A target of 468 was always going to require a miracle – a third candidate for the ‘greatest innings in history’ in 2019 probably – but for a brief period in the morning session, West Indies appeared to at least come prepared to go down fighting.
However, that fight fizzled in the first hour post lunch as the Indian bowlers inevitably closed in, with Jasprit Bumrah, also inevitably, providing the breakthrough that began the slide. Eventually, West Indies were bowled out for 210, an improvement on their first-innings 117, but that still meant a heavy 257-run defeat in the match and a 2-0 sweep of the series to India, who have also moved to the top of the World Test Championship table with 120 points.
In addition, Virat Kohli also became India’s winning-est captain, with 28 victories in Test cricket, going past MS Dhoni’s 27.
West Indies had progressed well through a 61-run stand for the fifth wicket between Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood, but both men were a lot less decisive and fluent post lunch, and Bumrah got one to straighten in the corridor to catch the edge of Blackwood’s tentative poke. Rishabh Pant did the rest, and West Indies went tumbling from 159 for 4 to 180 for 8. After that, it was a matter of time.
That Blackwood was in the middle, having originally not even been in the squad, was down to the ICC’s new concussion substitute laws, and he became the second ever concussion substitute to come on in Test cricket. Blackwood, who is from Jamaica, had been on the field as a substitute fielder earlier in the match. He was asked to pad up thanks to Darren Bravo retiring hurt in the fourth over of the day.
Bravo had been hit on the right side of the helmet off a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer in the last over of day three, which sent his stem guards – which protect the batsman’s neck area – flying. A West Indies spokesperson said the batsman had undergone a concussion test after play and passed it. However, in the fourth over, immediately after creaming a cover drive off Bumrah, Bravo walked off the field. He was taken to a doctor and a concussion was subsequently confirmed, which allowed West Indies to draft in Blackwood.
His inclusion meant West Indies became the first team in Test matches to have 12 batsmen batting in a single innings, but that wasn’t enough to stop India’s march to victory.
West Indies had begun well, with Brooks by stroking a full toss from Mohammed Shami through cover, and continuing to show excellent timing during his stay. Brooks should have been on his way back for 30, getting a spiffing delivery from Ravindra Jadeja that reared up from a length and spun, to take the edge and go into Ajinkya Rahane’s hands at slip, but replays showed that Jadeja had overstepped and Brooks survived. He added to Jadeja’s injury by lacing a cover drive in his next over.
Before that, West Indies had faced a mid-session wobble with Roston Chase and Shimron Hetmyer falling inside five balls. Jadeja got one to hold its line after pitching on leg stump and struck Chase on the pads, who was playing for the turn. Given out on the field, he reviewed, but the call stayed with the umpire with the ball shown to be clipping the top of the stumps.
In the next over, Ishant threw one wide and Hetmyer was suckered into driving with short cover in place, and hit the ball exactly to the fielder.
However, just when it seemed like India had opened a door to charge through, a free-stroking Blackwood joined Brooks to keep West Indies ticking over. Blackwood had a slice of luck, dropped off his fourth ball before he had scored a run. He pushed at a Jadeja ball that took the edge, but Pant couldn’t hold on. After that, Blackwood played with his familiar insouciance, crunching boundaries square and straight, even if not always with pristine timing. Technically, he had two more ‘chances’ though it would be harsh on the fielder to call them that. On 21, he drilled a fuller one from Shami back to the bowler’s left. It was powerfully struck and Shami did well to get a hand to it and stop its momentum. Then on 32, in the last over before lunch, he flayed a cover drive off Jadeja and Mayank Agarwal at silly point had to take evasive action as the ball hit him flush.
India also lost both their reviews during the session. In the 23rd over, Ishant rapped Chase on the pads, but the ball had swung in from well outside off, and ball tracker showed it would have missed leg stump. Then in the 25th over, Shami hit Blackwood on the pads, and once again Virat Kohli wanted to review it. However, there was an inside edge onto pad.
The lost reviews didn’t matter once Bumrah broke through after lunch. He had bowled only three overs in the morning session and spent some time off the field, and was given only a three-over spell post lunch too, but prised out Blackwood.
Brooks was done in by a combination of lazy running and brilliant fielding. Having pushed Jadeja square, he ambled down the crease but there was no run with Kohli haring across from cover. Before Brooks could process that there was a threat to his wicket, Kohli had dived, collected and thrown the ball in one motion, hitting the stumps direct.
The lower order was done in as much by the pressure as by the Indian bowlers sustaining good lines, and though Jason Holder hit out towards the end, that was just a last gasp of defiance before he missed a slog across the line and Jadeja rattled the stumps.