India vs West Indies: Fighting draw a positive sign for Caribbean cricket - Firstpost
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India vs West Indies: Fighting draw a positive sign for Caribbean cricket

"If five bowlers have given their best, and the opposition has done well, you just doff your hat to them (the West Indians)," said an upset but candid Virat Kohli following the second Test, a match he would feel India missed out on, letting the West Indies escape with a draw while a win would have let the hosts consolidate the series lead. Instead the series is still 1-0 with two Tests to go.

"Some of the old generals have retired and gone, and the runs don't come by as they did before, but when the toussaints go the dessalines come, we've lost the battle but yet we will win the war," goes the Caribbean nations' cricket anthem, Rally round the West Indies, a song the T20 world champions sang with pride before their matches at the world championships in March.

The Test team has struggled to find chances to smile amid all the gloom, but against India on Day 5, they did just so, and in a manner which surprised Viv Richards himself. 'King Viv' jumped ecstatically to a shot he thought brought up Roston Chase's maiden Test century, a feat he did achieve a couple of overs later.

Roston Chase became the first West Indian since Garry Sobers to hit a century and take five wickets in a Test. AP

Roston Chase became the first West Indian since Garry Sobers to hit a century and take five wickets in a Test. AP

It was Chase's heroic ton that helped the hosts earn a draw, and it was Chase, who with captain Jason Holder, walked off the Sabina Park pitch, their heads held high. Playing just his second Test, he followed up a five-wicket haul with his maiden ton, taking West Indies from an abysmal position to one of strength.

The West Indies also had rain to thank, with much of days three and four being rained out. Resuming play from their overnight score of 48 for four, the big talking point was if Holder's men could do enough to keep India at bay until Tropical Storm Earl intervened once again. But against all odds, the West Indies got to 388 for six at stumps, making all-rounder Roston Chase an overnight hero in his native Jamaica.

There were talks about India's poor bowling and Kohli's captaincy was also questioned by many. In hindsight, the Indians could have bowled a more disciplined line, but the West Indies did show great fight and made it near impossible for India to get back into the game.

Though in five bowlers, India had the right ammunition to win a Test, they still they failed to do so. They just took two wickets on Day five, one of which was an incorrect decision, with replays suggesting a huge inside edge.

But given the bad days West Indies has undergone in recent years and the numerous problems plaguing their cricket, we should all cherish the upturn in the team's fortunes.

"West Indies are surprising a few people (myself included!). What a day for Roston Chase!," exclaimed Harsha Bhogle on Twitter, chorusing the thoughts of many Indians who fought sleep in the hope of an Indian comeback.

Chase, who had his, 'Cometh the hour, Cometh the man' moment, not only scored a match-saving ton but also scalped five wickets, making him the first Windies player to achieve this feat in 50 years, after Gary Sobers' 1966 feat against England.

This Test might be one of the few occasions when the word "chase" has not gone well with Virat Kohli! Apart from Chase's ton, there were also impressive half-centuries for Jermaine Blackwood, wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich and captain Jason Holder. It also witnessed the beginning of resurgence of the Caribbean side, which could prove to be a boon for Test cricket.

West Indies are still a long way from becoming a competent Test side, but they have taken their first steps. It all began with Holder's fiery spell to Ajinkya Rahane, possibly the best of the series. Blackwood, who scored 50s in both innings, brings a different element to this side with his counter-attacking play; without his 62-ball-62, they wouldn't even have reached the modest 198 they managed in the first innings.

The truth is West Indies have been good in patches. Holder and co began the first Test positively but failed to maintain consistent pressure on the Indians, becoming complacent and allowing easy runs, eventually losing by an innings and 92 runs. But to prevail in Test cricket, you need to dominate session after session, which they managed to do only once, and the reward was instant as they drew the match in Jamaica.

So where now for the West Indies?

Day five of the second Test did expose the age-old frailties of India's bowling once a partnership starts building up. Chase, along with Blackwood, Dowrich and Holder, built on that weakness and will inspire other West Indian batsmen to continue.

In Shanon Gabriel, they have an outstanding bowler who manages to bowl a wicket threatening ball in each of his spell and has been undone by a lack of support from other side. Bowling partnerships are as vital as batting partnerships and teams that have been successful in Tests have repeatedly put a lot of emphasis on it.

Was this performance on the last day of a rain-marred Test a one-off? Only time will tell. But one thing is sure: The grit and perseverance shown by them is a minor indication of the revival of Test cricket in the Caribbean.

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