West Indies cricket is back to their mediocre ways after their superb 2-1 Test series win over England last March. It seems that their poor World cup campaign had its negative effects on its test team which was comprehensively decimated by a potent Indian bowling attack over two tests losing by thumping margins of 318 runs and 257 runs. In the 2nd test after Vihari’s (111) fine ton and solid half centuries by Kohli (76) , Ishant (57–1st test 50) and Mayank (55) India rattled up 416 runs after which Jasprit Bumrah took over the test match ripping the Windies batting to shreds with his brilliant 6/27 including his famous hattrick aided by a brilliant Kohli review on hattrick ball . India and Kohli did raise a few eyebrows by batting again in 2nd innings and not enforcing the follow on .They were soon rattled by an inspiring spell of bowling from Roach who took 3/28 including Kohli for a duck off a jaffer and then missed his hattrick by inches with Rahane almost playing on. However India after batting for about 3 hours set Windies a target of 468 after Rahane and Vihari fifties. The spineless batting of West Indies continued in 2nd innings as none of their batters except Sharman Brooks (50) showing any stomach for a fight. Darren Bravo was hit on the helmet late on the 3rd day by a searing Bumrah bouncer which send his stem guards flying. Having passed his concussion test soon after ,he had headaches while batting next morning and was substituted by Blackwell who played aggressively for his 38. However combined effort by Indian bowlers in 2nd innings did not allow West Indies to progress further than 210 and India closed out the series 2-0 to notch up a maximum of 120 points in the series for the 2 year World Test Championships.
The poor quality of West Indies batting in this series can be easily derived from the fact that there was just 1 single score of 50 for them in the whole series which came from Brooks in the final innings!! Skipper Jason Holder was the only batsman to total 100 runs in 4 innings for the home team. Of the bowlers both Kemar Roach (9 wkts) and Holder (8 wkts) showed their quality averaging 22 ,while the rest were rather patchy. One wonders what is next for the Windies as there is hardly any genuine talent available for them in 5 day format. Even in their stronger formats they have stumbled to defeats to India in 5 out of 6 white ball games.
One of the big gains for India in this series was the batting of Hanuman Vihari who batted with patience and right approach for a 5 day game in scoring 289 runs for the series at 92 average. Rahane also is back amongst runs averaging 90 for his 271 runs tally and showed his class against some good bowling dished out by Windies from time to time. Kohli though batted well missed out on a hundred . Pujara would be disappointed with his returns of a meagre 60 runs but one hopes it’s just a temporary setback for him. The biggest disappointment were the openers .Mayank after his great success in Australia could not consolidate his spot in this series totalling 80 runs and KL Rahul continues to pose headaches for the Indian selectors with his continuing low scores in 5 day format totalling just 101 runs. Selectors really need to think hard now about trying Rohit Sharma as opener or look at a younger talent like Easwaran as Rahul has already enjoyed an extended run as opener with meagre returns.
Indian bowling had been World class though it has to be said that they were not stretched at all by the poor Windies batting. Bumrah (15 wkts) was unplayable in this series . Ishant (11 wkts) and Shami (9 wkts) never let off the pressure and Jadeja was tight as usual.
Finally a word on Rishabh Pant , who did not have a successful series specially with the bat. With home series next vs South Africa on apparently more spinning wickets, Pant will be challenged for his spot by Wriddiman Saha who is a superior keeper and more senior than Pant.
Kohli is now the leading Indian captain in its history with highest number of 28 test wins. He definitely has a great advantage over his predecessors with respect to the best combined bowling attack that India now poccess which was not the case in the past.
The series averages as under.