Ravichandran Ashwin, the world's top-ranked bowler, proved too much for an ill-equipped West Indies batting line-up in the opening Test, leading India to a resounding innings and 141-run victory. Ashwin's exceptional performance, including his second five-wicket haul of the game, set the stage for India's triumph.
After India declared their first innings at 421 for five, hopes were high for an improved batting display from the West Indies. However, they were simply not up to the task and crumbled to a meagre 130 all out in 50 overs, resulting in a three-day finish. Ashwin's outstanding figures of seven for 71 in 21.3 overs, his best in an overseas Test, followed his impressive 33rd five-wicket haul in the first innings.
The outcome was already apparent after the West Indies were bundled out for 150 on the opening day. Yashasvi Jaiswal's remarkable debut innings, where he scored a sublime 171, also played a significant role in India's commanding win.
While Virat Kohli contributed 76 runs off 182 balls, it was not one of his fluent knocks as he had to toil hard for his runs and was even dropped twice along the way. The second and final Test will commence in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on July 20. India, who have not lost a Test match to West Indies since 2002, are expected to complete a clean sweep and accumulate crucial points in the World Test Championship.
The writing was on the wall when the West Indies found themselves reduced to 32 for four in their second innings. With the conditions resembling the slow and dry tracks of India, Rohit Sharma introduced spin as early as the fifth over. West Indies stumbled to 27 for two in 19 overs at tea, with Ashwin and Jadeja removing Kraigg Brathwaite (7) and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (7) respectively. Jadeja trapped Chanderpaul in front with a delivery that turned sharply from the middle stump, and the DRS confirmed it was clipping the top of his leg stump. Brathwaite struggled to decipher Ashwin's skillful variations, eventually edging a straighter delivery to Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.
Among the West Indies batters, only debutant Alick Athanaze (28 off 44) appeared assured in the middle. He fearlessly executed sweeps against Ashwin and played an elegant square cut and a pull off Mohammed Siraj. However, Athanaze's innings came to an end when he was caught by Yashasvi Jaiswal at short leg off Ashwin's bowling in the 37th over.
India declared their innings an hour after lunch, seemingly waiting for debutant Ishan Kishan to score his first run, which took 20 balls. The visitors batted for a marathon 152.2 overs in their first innings, amassing a massive lead of 271 runs at a run rate of 2.76. Kohli was the only Indian batsman dismissed after lunch. After surviving a dropped catch in the first over after the break, Kohli's stay at the crease was cut short when he fell into the trap set by off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall. The burly spinner generated extra bounce from the middle stump, and Kohli ended up flicking the ball straight into the hands of the leg slip fielder.
In the morning session, Jaiswal became only the third Indian to score 150 on debut, while Kohli labored to reach his half-century. At lunch, India had reached 400 for four. Starting the day at 312 for two, India scored 88 runs in 29 overs in the morning session, losing Jaiswal (171) and Ajinkya Rahane (3) in the process. The Indian batsmen had to work hard for their runs on a slow pitch that offered significant turn and had a heavy outfield.
Kohli's celebration after hitting a rare boundary served as evidence of the challenges faced by the batsmen. Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican posed difficulties for Kohli from one end. The former Indian skipper received a lifeline on 40 when he was dropped by West Indies captain Brathwaite at cover. Meanwhile, Jaiswal confidently stepped out to Warrican, dispatching him for a straight six. With a single, he became the third Indian to reach 150 on debut, joining the ranks of Shikhar Dhawan (187) and Rohit Sharma (177). A double century seemed within reach for Jaiswal, but it eluded him as he edged a delivery angled away by Alzarri Joseph.
Shortly after, Rahane, who had an opportunity to make a substantial contribution, attempted a drive on a slow pitch against Kemar Roach but only managed to offer a straightforward catch to the fielder at cover. As Rahkeem Cornwall was not permitted to bowl in the morning session due to his absence on day two, the West Indies conceded some easy boundaries to India towards the end of the session.
West Indies 150 all out and 130 all out in 50.3 overs (R Ashwin 7/71) India 1st Innings: 421/5 declared in 152.2 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 171, Rohit Sharma 103, Virat Kohli 76).