Samuels, Bravo steady WI
KOLKATA, India – Marlon Samuels was within reach of a half-century and shared a valuable, third-wicket stand with Darren Bravo to help West Indies overcome the setback of losing their openers before lunch in the first Test against India on Wednesday here.
Samuels was not out on 45 and Bravo was not out on 16, as the Windies, choosing to bat, reached 107 for two in their first innings at the interval on the opening day at Eden Gardens.
Before a crowd that has half-filled this vast stadium to be part of Indian batting star Sachin Tendulkar’s pentultimate Test, Bravo and Samuels batted with typical flair and have so far added 60, after Gayle fell for 18 and Powell went for 28 in the first hour.
Samuels got off the mark when he glanced his first delivery from Test newcomer Mohammad Shami to the deep fine leg boundary for four and unleashed a volley of typically stylish strokes.
He greeted left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha with a six over long-on and a searing drive through cover off Bhuvneshwar Kumar just before the interval gave goose-bumps.
Bravo was far more sedate, but no less at ease and lofted off-spin threat Ravichandran Ashwin for a six deep into the crowd over long-off with his one stroke of violence.
Gayle had guided the first ball of the match from Kumar between third slip and gully for a boundary, but eased the nerves when he collected three fours from Shami’s third over from languid, rather than brutal strokes.
The big left-hander had a determined approach to his batting and moved serenely to 18 before Kumar squared him up and was caught at second slip from a thick edge.
Powell typically never looked troubled at the crease, handling the new-ball pair confidently, and welcoming Ashwin into the attack with a lofted straight six off his third ball and a lofted on-drive from the final ball of the bowler’s first over.
But the lean left-hander was undone by the uneven bounce of the pitch, when he miscued a pull at a short delivery from Shami and was caught at mid-on for 28 to prompt the day’s first drinks break with the visitors 47 for two.
West Indies plans for the match hit a snag, when lead fast bowler Kemar Roach was sidelined with a sore shoulder, allowing left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell to make his debut, becoming the 297th Test player from the Caribbean.
It meant there was only one change to the side that played in the tour opener against Uttar Pradesh last week, with off-spinner Shane Shillingford replacing left-handed batsman and part-time off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine.
India also handed debuts to batsman Rohit Sharma and Shami , leaving out Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav .
Local authorities held a brief ceremony before the start of play, presenting both teams – including Tendulkar – with bouquets, a commemorative medal and tie.
The second Test at the Wankhede Stadium in Tendulkar’s home city of Mumbai starts on next Thursday and will be followed by three One-day Internationals.
C. Gayle c Vijay b Kumar 18
K. Powell c Kumar b Mohammad Shami 28
D.M. Bravo not out 16
M. Samuels not out 45
TOTAL (2 wkts) 107
S. Chanderpaul, +D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, V. Permaul, S. Shillingford, T. Best, S. Cottrell to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-34 (Gayle), 2-47 (Powell)
Bowling: Kumar 9-3-27-1; Mohammad Shami 7-1-39-1; Ashwin 10-7-22-0; Ojha 7-3-19-0
INDIA: S. Dhawan, M. Vijay, C. Pujara, S. Tendulkar, V. Kohli, R. Sharma, *+M.S. Dhoni, R. Ashwin, B. Kumar, Mohammad Shami, P. Ojha
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: R. Kettleborough (England), N. Llong (England)
TV umpire: V. Kulkarni (India)
Match referee: A. Pycroft (Zimbabwe)
Reserve umpire: S. Das (India)