Are three innings enough to judge the potential of a batting line-up? Well, if it is, then one has to admit that among all the West Indian batsmen who are featuring in the ongoing series, Roston Chase has by far seemed like the most assured player against spin. He commenced the tour with a gutsy half-century in the first innings at Rajkot and on Friday in Hyderabad, the 26-year old bailed the visitors out of an adverse situation with a chanceless and on Saturday, he hit his fourth Test ton, his second against India.
At 92 for 4, the visitors were heading towards yet another batting collapse when Chase came to the crease. Soon it became 113 for 5 as Kuldeep Yadav continued his domination against the Windies middle-order. However, unlike some of his teammates, Chase was not ready to crack under the relentless pressure of India's spin-trio. With his decisive feet movement and long reach to smother the spin, he not only just kept the Indian tweakers at bay, the Barbados lad in fact dominated them and took his team to a respectable 295 for 7 at Stumps on Day 1.
Of the 174 deliveries that Chase faced on Day 1, 136 were from the slow bowlers and he showed impeccable control while facing those. 82 out of the 98 runs were scored against the slow bowling and he did it without much fuss. In fact, the key to this success was his clear-cut gameplan of not allowing the spinners to settle down against him. And there was no tentativeness in his stroke-play. Perhaps that's why out of the 174 balls, Chase played only five false shots.
It took just 16 deliveries for Chase to make his intentions clear when he lofted Ravindra Jadeja over the mid-wicket fence of a six. Instead of playing with a dead bat - the mistake often inexperienced non sub-continental batsmen do while playing for the first time in this part of the world - he was more often looking for the ones and twos as well as the odd boundaries. A back foot punch here, a drive there and the runs kept on coming.
To his advantage, there was not enough side-spin on that Day 1 track, but the apt feet movement always kept him at ease.
Windies coach Stuart Law considers Chase a natural player of spin. He feels the experience of playing on rough Caribbean tracks at the domestic level has helped him to master the art of tackling the slow bowlers. Also his height is an added advantage.
"I think he understands spin," Law said at the post-day media interaction. "They've faced a lot of spin back in the Caribbean in domestic cricket. Also he's got long levers. He's got long reach. He takes half a stride and he's almost down the length of the pitch so he uses that to his advantage. He's a clean striker of the ball. He plays good cricket shots. And, apart from that, we try and get the dirtiest, dustiest pitches to bat in the nets so we do learn to bat against spin quicker."
Well, right from the start of his Test career, the spark was evident in Chase's batting. Just in his second game, he scored a match-saving 137 not out against India at Kingston and then followed it up with a fruitful tour of UAE when the right-hander notched up 309 runs in six innings against Pakistan. Though Chase had his issues with Yasir Shah but in the return series at Caribbean the youngster seemed to have sorted it out as he scored hundreds in back-to-back Tests in Guyana and Dominica in May 2017.
However, since that series Chase had a bit of a lean patch as a batsman. With his fourth Test century, he scored his first three-figure score after 24 Test innings. In fact, prior to this tour, there was a cloud cover, hovering over his selection in the XI.
Nevertheless, by now those doubts must have been cleared.
In the long term, Windies need Chase to bat up the order. He has the potential to bat at No. 4 but for that the youngster needs to be a complete batsman, which at this moment he isn't. In his recent tours of England and New Zealand, Chase was found susceptible against quality pace bowling. Even on this tour, he struggled against the reverse-swing of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami at Rajkot.
Hence, if Chase can work on this aspect of his batting, he is bound to be a long-term servant of West Indies cricket.