Antigua. The venue of the First Test. India are restricted under 300. This means, the bowling side has done a real top job dislodging the likes of Kohli, Pant, Pujara rather cheaply. But on the Fourth day, you see a string of poor captaincy decisions by Jason Holder that ultimately fails to grab the opportunity of putting a lid around the Indian batsmen.
Runs come freely. Rahane’s fluttering Test career is all but resuscitated. Hanuma Vihari- not the batsman that would give you perilous scares- goes onto score a big one.
For some reason, Roston Chase isn’t the only slow bowler brought into the attack. As die-hard fans who’ve seen better bowling responses to an attacking Indian batting line-up, you stutter in disbelief.
Wait, is that Kraigg Brathwaite bowling? But to your utter dismay, the string of surprises from a seemingly clueless Jason Holder don’t end there.
Why’s Jonathan Campbell- abject failure from the bat in both innings- coming into bowl is something more mysterious than the selectors’ turning a blind eye on Chanderpaul in the closing stages of his career or even the 2019 World Cup winner verdict that sidelined the Kiwis.
Not attacking Indians with Gabriel and Roach bowling in tandem isn’t the only discouraging aspect of Holder’s faulty captaincy.
There are dropped catches. We see Campbell dropping Rahane turning into something the West Indians would come to dread later.
Moreover, whosoever thought of not reviewing the “plumb in front” dismissal that went against the hosts’ favor didn’t shy from adding more insult to West Indians’ misery.
Wasn’t Rahane clearly out there? What benefit did a saved review bring to Holder and company? None know.
Soon, the West Indian bowling line up with only Kemar Roach seeming in the thick of things tires out and eventually, things fall into Kohli’s decision making ambit.
He declares. With well over a day remaining from which to get 359, you think this may not be an easy game but with sensible batting can be made into a contest.
The Windies line up does have some strokemakers. There’s Hetmyer, who can get up a quick score in no time. There’s Bravo with his fluency and technique.
Moreover, if things comes to battling on for a draw- we know what the likes of Roston Chase can do.
Yet, in little less than 4 hours the Indians dismantle the West Indians from a very score-able surface.
But the hardest part in seeing the Windies batters uprooted for exactly a 100 is up to the audience.
They haven’t been treated to a more miserable batting showing in a while. It’s like someone unleashed not one but two Frankenstein in the form of Ishant and Bumrah on the hosts.
What was left was children scampering for cover, looking to hide from the Bogeyman or something of that sort.
The final outcome that Kemar Roach- star with the ball and quite frankly, the only man who applied himself and sweated it out, scores the most runs, nearly a third of the West Indian team total of 100.
It’s insane. It’s shabby on the part of the batsmen. It’s yawn-inducing and worthy of generating a million facepalms!
It appears that Jason Holder didn’t think of his options wisely. Neither on the field, nor off it.
The decision to play Brooks over genuine all-round material in Rahkeem Cornwall - someone’s who’s been waiting for all this while - turned to be a sour outcome.
Brooks couldn’t even score a collective 20. Bravo and Hetmyer were utterly disappointing.
How Darren Bravo- someone who’s defied a team like New Zealand in New Zealand on his way to that 218 (still the highlight of his career)- not manage to put bat to ball in the second inning is beyond anyone.
One didn’t see vice-captain Brathwaite standing up to the occasion either.
Where were the team meetings on the pitch between Brathwaite and Holder? At some point, you need to wrap brains together, work things out, sort out the mess.
Yet, India humbled the Windies with about the sans ease it takes a child to put candy in the mouth.
In the aftermath, if you were a West Indian from the Seventies, then surely you could say you’ve seen better days. Oh, those glory days. Where have they gone?
But if you were a contemporary West Indian, someone for whom the heart is made of all Maroon- then Jason Holder’s captaincy and his team’s deeds left you marooned, reeling in isolation.
What now remains is whether the West Indies can salvage some pride by at least holding onto a draw in Jamaica?