Debutant pacer Mohammad Shami ended with figures of 4 for 71 on his Test debut to help India bowl out West Indies for 234 on Day 1 of the Kolkata Test. (BCCI Images)
New Delhi: If a wicket by Sachin Tendulkar provided the spark Eden Test needed, debutant Mohammad Shami proved the catalyst with his four-wicket spell to give India control on day one of the first Test against West Indies in Kolkata.
West Indies were at one stage looking good, reaching 106 for 2 at lunch, but Shami's afternoon burst deflated the visitors who were then bowled out for 234 shortly after tea. The inexperienced new-ball attack of West Indies didn't trouble the Indian openers Shikhar Dhwan (21*) and Murali Vijay (16*), who safely reached 37 for no loss at stumps.
Sachin mania gave way to cricket on Wednesday when the two captains went out to toss with a specially designed gold coin that read '199th Test Match' with Tendulkar's image on it. It came down in Darren Sammy's favour who decided to bat.
Three men made their Test debut. For India, Rohit Sharma had a moment to cherish when he received his cap from Tendulkar. Shami became the 279th Indian to play Test cricket. It was Ishant Sharma who gave Shami his cap, which was somewhat ironic as it was Ishant whose place Shami took in the eleven. For West Indies, paceman Sheldon Cottrell got a chance to wear the Test whites after a shoulder injury ruled out Kemar Roach.
India's new-ball pair of Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had just four Tests between them, all played by the latter. But they were not intimidated by the figure of Chris Gayle in front of the stumps, though Gayle and Kieran Powell remained unseparated through the first 10 overs.
But Bhuvi removed Gayle (18) in the 11th over to get India the big fish. Powell looked to be taking the attack to India spinners. But Shami set him up nicely by bowling a bouncer after slipping in a few outside off. Powell went for the pull, miscued and was lapped up by Bhuvi at mid-off for 28.
Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo then joined hands and, with a nice mix of caution and aggression, rebuild the innings to first bring up their fifty-run stand and then get to lunch at 106 for 2.
Seven overs following lunch, the 40-over-old ball was replaced, and it rapidly changed the match situation. From 138 for 2, in the space of 10 balls, the scoreboard read 143 for 5.
The changed ball started reversing nicely for Shami, who beat Samuels to go through his defences after he got his half-century. He made 65. Bravo then got himself needlessly run out for 23, when despite Shivnarine Chanderpaul's refusal, he came way down the track that made it impossible for him to get back into his crease.
In the middle of a fiery spell, Shami then castled Denesh Ramdin for 4 to expose the long West Indies tail. Windies' hopes of a repair job rested on Chanderpaul and captain Darren Sammy, but the latter played an irresponsible shot against Pragyan Ojha to perish in the deep for 16.
The moment of the day though arrived in the 63rd over of the day. Much to the delight of around 30,000 crowd, Dhoni threw the ball to Tendulkar who struck with the fourth ball of his over to remove Shane Shillingford (5) lbw at the stroke of tea, which the umpires called at 192 for 7.
Chanderpaul had to maneuver the tail in the post-tea session to take his team past 250, but the tailenders continued their flop show on Wednesday. First Ashwin removed Veerasammy Permaul (14) caught and bowled and then got the big wicket of Chanderpaul (36), bowling him off a peach that the veteran batsman missed to lose his offstump.
Shami wrapped it up with the wicket of debutant Cottrell for 0 to complete his four-wicket haul. Ashwin returned figures of 2 for 52, while Bhuvi, Ojha and Tendulkar got one wicket each.
India openers Vijay and Dhawan started positively, but then buckled down to get to stumps unscathed to set the match up nicely for India.