- Virat Kohli dropped a catch off Shimron Hetmyer at third slip. A customary drop for the Indian captain.
- Cheteshwar Pujara, at first slip, and Rishabh Pant misjudged an outside edge from Rahkeem Cornwall and let a chance go.
- Mohammad Shami has failed to score a run again in a Test innings. His batting efforts in his last six matches (when he has come out to bat, of course) read: 6, 0, 0, 0*, 0*, 0, 0.
- A couple of Indian bowlers cramped up.
If you missed out on watching day two of the second Test between India and West Indies and are wondering what the afore-mentioned bullet-points are: those are arguably the only “negatives” one could pick from Virat Kohli and Co’s performance on Saturday in Jamaica. Test cricket away from home, irrespective of the caliber of the opposition, is not supposed to be this easy.
But on Saturday, India made it look like a walk in the Sabina Park.
It all started with a well-deserved century.
Hanuma Vihari reaches promised land
Nine years after he made his first class debut, nine months after he was made to open the batting for India in a boxing day Test, Hanuma Vihari can say he is a Test match centurion. In many ways, this was meant to be. For all the years of toil on the domestic circuit, Vihari deserved his moment in the sun and it came on Saturday in Jamaica after a gritty knock.
It was not easy. He received a life when on 68, as John Campbell put down a tough chance at first slip. He accelerated with a flurry of boundaries when Ravindra Jadeja fell to a rash shot, perhaps afraid that he might run out of partners. He then hit a brickwall when on 86, being stuck there for 22 deliveries during which he played a few loose drives.
But, as Ian Bishop has pointed out on air repeatedly, Vihari is your classic Test batsman who waits for the bad balls to put away easily, instead of putting away good balls with style.
For all we know, Hardik Pandya’s return to the side for the next series could be at the expense of Vihari. His position in the XI was not a certainty before this series started and might still not be so; but with a 93 and a century in the last two innings he has played, he has done his bit: score runs when given the opportunity. The rest, is not in his control from here on.
And on any other day, Vihari’s superb ton alone would have been worth 800 words of praise.
We are used to seeing Ishant Sharma grind out in a Test match. He might not have the class of the Dravids and Pujaras, but if you could quantify the value a batsman puts on his wicket, Ishant would be right up there with those two.
But this was a different sort of innings from the tall Delhi pacer. (All-rounder?)
He was batting with an air of confidence... arrogance, even. He swept Rahkeem Cornwall with authority. He drove Jason Holder with elegance. He upper cut Kemar Roach with force. And he played a sweep shot in front of square off Roston Chase that made Ian Bishop go, “Ishant Sobers!” on air while Graeme Swann joined in saying, “not long before bat sponsors start queuing up for Ishant.”
The reaction when he got to his half century said it all: Virat Kohli and the rest celebrated from the balcony as if it was one of their own centuries. It meant a lot to the man himself, as well as the team.
And on any other day, Ishant’s entertaining half century and his growth as a lower-order batsman would have been worth 800 words of praise.
Take it away, Jasprit Bumrah
But this was not just any other day.
Before we go forward, consider this: this is Jasprit Bumrah’s 12th Test. TWELFTH. He has five-wicket hauls already in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies. He produced a spell of magic in Antigua, where his figures read: 8-4-7-5.
You would think that’s probably as good as it could get on this tour, right?
He produced a spell that made Viv Richards wonder how far Indian cricket has come since the days of the spin quartet. It made Sunil Gavaskar so proud to see an Indian pacer breathe fire at Sabina Park.
It made world cricket sit up and take notice, yet again.
In six overs of sensational swing bowling, Bumrah sent back half the West Indies side to the pavilion. And the highlight, of course, was the brilliant hat-trick in his fourth over.
Second ball, Darren Bravo. Third ball, Shamarh Brooks. Fourth ball, Roston Chase.
With a decisive assist from his captain Virat Kohli, who insisted on a review when Bumrah hadn’t even celebrated, the 25-year-old went where only two other Indians have gone before in Test history.
It was not quite Harbhajan Singh at Eden Gardens, because the atmosphere from that day cannot be matched.
It was not quite Irfan Pathan at National Stadium, because that was against the arch-rivals in the first over.
But this was special for Indian cricket because it reiterated an important fact: the best pacer going around in the game now is an Indian.