Key takeaways from India’s Caribbean rout
A relentless pace attack backed up by some gutsy knocks in the lower middle order remains the highlight of the two-Test match series against West Indies. However, India would have liked more from their top order and some character from keeper Rishabh Pant.
222, 100, 117 and 210! That West Indies were bowled out for less than 250 runs in both the Test matches tells you how potent was India’s bowling attack.
That the Caribbeans couldn’t take 20 wickets in either of the Tests—even in their home conditions—underlines India’s batting resilience.
Chasing a near-impossible target of 468, West Indies batting once again failed to show stomach for a good fight as they caved in for 210 in 59.5 overs, well inside the fourth day.
They had started the series on a positive note, had India huffing and puffing before lunch on day 1. But the Windies squandered away the advantage, and could never recover thereupon.
The Men in Blues made mincemeat of the Caribbeans, who suffered a 318-run loss in Antigua and a 257-run demolition in the second and final Test.
India blanked the hosts 3-0 in the T20Is, went on to win the three-match ODI series 2-0 and finally swept the Test series 2-0. A full-blooded carnage!
Here are the key takeaways:
KL Rahul’s wasted opportunity
'Should I play or leave?' KL Rahul grapples with tweaked technique
Prithvi Shaw was out due to a doping suspension. Shikhar Dhawan, who had just recovered from an injury, was dropped due to lack of form. Indian Test opener slot was open. KL Rahul was drafted in. He should’ve made full use of it.
Since the start of 2018, Rahul has averaged 22.23 across 15 Test matches, scoring one hundred, against England at The Oval, and one fifty, against Afghanistan in Bengaluru. His career average, which stood at 44.62 before this lean run, has now slumped to 34.58.
He might still get a few opportunities in the three Tests against South Africa and the first Test against Bangladesh—that’s until Shaw becomes eligible for selection.
Jasprit Bumrah—the white-ball demon
The trot towards the bowling crease, the five-step acceleration, the flaying limbs and the open-chested thrust—it’s surreal to acknowledge how Bumrah manages this ridiculously good consistency at the highest level. From a death over specialist, Bumrah has now become a white-ball demon.
He was unplayable, period! Bumrah continued from where he left off in Antigua and was right on the money from the start. The Windies batsmen couldn’t wrap their heads around the searing pace that was jagging in and out.
The right-arm pacer not only recorded his fifth fifer in Test cricket, but also became the third India to claim a hat-trick in the longest format, only after Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan.
Rahane-Vihari rescue act
It was great to see Ajinkya Rahane find form. It was a crucial series this for India’s vice captain—a testing Test (if I may say), really! But he scored those runs, didn’t he? 271, to be precise. A century and two fifties in the four innings that he played in the Caribbean Islands.
Blood(y) good drive!
Hanuma Vihari’s grit and composure, his correct technique and a cool head on his shoulders, for me, was the highlight of the series. He showed great maturity to notch up scores of 32 and 93 in the first Test at North Sound, adding important runs down the order to bulk up the eventually total.
He carried his good form in the second Test and joined an elite list of Indian batsmen to score a century and a half-century, while batting at no 6 or lower, in the same Test outside Asia. Needless to say, he was the leading run scorer of the tournament with 289 runs.
Lovely batting by @Hanumavihari to get to his 1st 100. Also very good to see @ajinkyarahane88 get back in form.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) September 2, 2019
The maturity & patience they have shown is a good sign for the Indian Test team.#WIvsIND pic.twitter.com/T5EaNxGdpn
Still grooming Pant?
Rishabh Pant was the ultimate let down. He might have gone past Dhoni to become the fastest Indian keeper with 50 dismissals in Test, but his batting still remains a bit of concern.
He scored an impressive 159* against Australia at the start of the year but could manage only 58 runs in the three innings that he batted against West Indies. In the couple of innings that he batted in the ODIs Pant scored just 20 runs, including a golden duck.
A disappointment too many!
But more than that, it’s the manner in which he gets out that could land him in hot soup. Wriddhiman Saha’s wicketkeeping skill may have been sacrificed at the altar of Rishabh Pant’s batting exuberance. Saha puts a price on his wicket, it’s time the management expects that from the left-hander as well if they want to give him along rope.