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Roseau (Dominica), July 13 – Dropped for the World Test Championship (WTC) Final at The Oval, Ravichandran Ashwin came up with a strong performance as his record-breaking five-wicket haul helped India bundle out hosts West Indies for a paltry 150 in their first innings in the opening Test match of the series at Windsor Park here.
Ashwin claimed 5-60 in 24.3 overs as he claimed the wickets of West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (20), Tagenarine Chanderpaul (12), Alick Athanaze (47), Alzarri Joseph (4) and Jomel Warrican (1) as swung things India’s way with a brilliant bowling effort after West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first.
This was Ashwin’s 33rd five-wicket haul in an innings in Tests as he helped India take a dominant position in the first Test.
It was a rare day in recent times as two Indian spinners led the show in an away match on a pitch that looked like turning from the first day itself as it was very brown with patches of grass. Ravindra Jadeja claimed 3-26 off 14 overs as India got into the driver’s seat in the first Test of the two-match Test series.
Having done a great job with the ball, India knocked 80 runs in 23 overs off the hosts’ score without losing a wicket as the new-look opening pair of Yashasvi Jaiswal (40 batting) and skipper Rohit Sharma (30 batting) held the fort for the visitors. India now are 70 runs adrift of the West Indies’ first-innings score with all 10 wickets intact and in a great position to post a massive total and take total control of the match.
Earlier, debutant left-handed batter Alick Athanaze showed some resistance and was looking at putting a price on his wicket before falling for 47 as India pocketed another session in their kitty by reducing West Indies to 137/8 in 58 overs at Tea.
After picking four wickets in the first session, India picked four more wickets, two of which were taken by Ravichandran Ashwin, while conceding only 69 runs. The visitors’ are now just two wickets away to bowl out West Indies for a below-par total.
The hosts’ below-par batting effort was caused mainly by some reckless shot selection, including an assured, calm and composed-looking Athanaze. The batters were perishing when trying to attack deliveries without showing adequate patience, leaving a lot left to be desired.
An impressive Athanaze began the second session with a crisp drive on the up for four off Ravindra Jadeja. But the left-arm spinner bounced back by cramping Joshua da Silva for room on the cut with a straighter delivery and extra bounce took the edge behind to Ishan Kishan, who completed the catch on rebound.
But Athanaze continued to impress, driving square off Thakur for four, followed by pulling Ashwin with a conviction for another boundary. Jadeja came under attack as Athanaze first swept him through square leg and then Jason Holder whacked straight down the ground to take two fours.
The sparse home crowd was left more delighted when Athanaze got down on his knees and swiped Ashwin high over mid-wicket for six. Just as the 41-run partnership was starting to bail West Indies out of trouble, Mohammed Siraj’s short-ball persistence was rewarded as Holder pulled straight to deep square leg.
Ashwin came back into the bowling attack and picked his third wicket when Alzarri Joseph miscued a slog to backward point. The dismissal also helped Ashwin clinch his 700th scalp, making him the third Indian bowler to take the most wickets in international cricket after Anil Kumble (956) and Harbhajan Singh (711).
The off-spinner had kept Athanaze in tight control on three deliveries in the 55th over and on the last ball of the over, the left-hander tried to pull a short ball over midwicket. But the ball went up and was caught easily by mid-on, leaving Athanaze three runs short of fifty on Test debut.
West Indies 150 all out in 64.3 overs (Alick Athanaze 47, Kraigg Brathwaite 20; Ravichandran Ashwin 5-60, Ravindra Jadeja 3-26) lead India 80 without loss in 23 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal batting 40, Rohit Sharma batting 30) by 70 runs.