KOLKATA, India, CMC- A day that started with much promise ended in an anti-climax for West Indies, after a half-century from Marlon Samuels failed to ignite their batting, as newcomer Mohammad Shami triggered a collapse to give India an early advantage in the first Test yesterday here.
Samuels hit the top score of 65, but Shami grabbed 4-71 from 17 overs on debut, as the Windies, choosing to bat on an easy-paced pitch, were bowled out for 234 in their first innings about an hour after tea on the opening day before a half-filled Eden Gardens.
Several of the West Indies’ batsmen got starts, but failed to carry on – Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored 36, Kieran Powell made 28 and Darren Bravo got 23 – as the visitors crumbled after lunch from a steady 138 for two.
The Windies, whose bowling plans were compromised with Kemar Roach being sidelined with a sore shoulder, then failed to remove either left-hander Shikhar Dhawan, not out on 21, or fellow opener Murali Vijay, not out on 16, as the Indians reached 37 without loss when stumps were drawn.
The stylish Samuels was in cruise mode, reaching his 50 from 61 balls, when he guided left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha through square cover for a single in the second over after lunch.
Samuels was fortunate on 60, when wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain, put him down from an under-edged cut off Ojha.
He was bowled playing back to a well-pitched delivery from the fast-medium bowler that kept low and moved back to extract his middle stump. Samuels struck 11 fours and two sixes from 98 balls in 103 minutes, and put on 91for the third wicket with Bravo that had revived the Windies from a wobbly 47 for two after the first hour.
West Indies suffered a further setback, when Bravo was run out for 23 in a mix-up with fellow left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul next over.
Bravo advanced looking for a single into square leg from off-spin threat Ravichandran Ashwin, failed to get a clear response from Chanderpaul and was beaten by Shami’s throw to Dhoni.
Denesh Ramdin was fortunate next delivery, when he edged his first ball, from Ashwin, just wide of slip for a boundary, but Shami bowled him for four in the following over, when he played too late on a delivery which moved back sharply and also extracted his middle-stump.
Sammy came to the crease and endured a few tense moments with Chanderpaul against Shami to stem the fall of wickets. He managed 16 before he tried to collect his fourth four, off Ojha, and was caught inside the long-off boundary to leave the Windies 172 for six.
To a tumultuous roar from the crowd, Shane Shillingford’s 40-minute resistance came to a momentous conclusion, when he was adjudged lbw for five playing defensively forward to Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar to prompt tea with West Indies 192 for seven.
With Roach nursing his sore shoulder, left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell made his Test 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 Shillingford replacing left-handed batsman and part-time off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine.
India handed debuts to Shami and batsman Rohit Sharma, 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 the soon-to-be retired Tendulkar – with bouquets, a commemorative medal and tie.