When in college, the enduring and endearing cricketing powerhouse in the world was the West Indies. No other cricketing nation, not even Australia, England, Pakistan or India came anywhere near even challenging their supremacy in any part of the world.
The world’s best opening batting pair was Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge; the best batsman was Viv Richards, the world’s most awesome pace battery, the best-ever assembled in the history of the game was Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Colin Croft; the most acrobatic wicket-keeper was Jeff Dujon.
The Windies had fantastic slip and outfielders. In short they were a brilliant cricket team and each and every member of the team was very proud to be part of Clive Lloyd’s 'invincibles'.
Even later they could call on world-class players in Brian Lara, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and others.
Sadly the current lot, inheritors of such a hoary and awesome legacy, are a pale shadow of the giants who once walked like lords across the world’s cricket grounds.
In fact, any doubts that the current Windies team is a disgrace to the earlier lot was quickly dispelled within two days of play at Rajkot.
If they were smashed black and blue by debutant Prithvi Shaw and Cheteshwar Pujara on the opening day, they looked a broken lot on Friday.
There was no fight, no spirit, nothing to suggest that this is a team was once feared by every nation in the world.
Early in the morning, their prime fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel, who should have been at the throat of Virat Kohli and young Rishabh Pant, looked disjointed and low on energy. He bowled a few overs before beating a retreat.
Even otherwise, the Windies ought to have known that Pant and Kohli would be at them from the start and they ought to have taken all measures to slow the scoring rate.
Instead, Pant had a field day, smashing four sixes and eight boundaries in an 84-ball effort worth 92 runs. His aggressive intent that fetched runs by the boundaries helped Kohli to concentrate on playing himself in at a sedate pace and march to his 24th Test century.
Only Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Gavaskar have scored more Test centuries for India.
If Kohli’s (139; 230b, 10x4) and Pant’s pyrotechnics were the feature of pre-lunch play, Ravindra Jadeja’s smashing unbeaten century (100 not out; 132 balls, 5x6, 5x4) flogged the daylights out of the Windies in the second session.
The talking point was not India’s massive total of 649 for 9 declared. Rather it was the poor, dispirited performance put up by the Windies team. The bowling looked ragged and the fielding pedestrian. It was one of the worst advertisements for Test cricket for sure.
Just when one thought that the Caribbean Calypsos had reached the nadir, they further shocked everyone with their miserable batting display.
In only 29 overs their entire top order packed up. It was not as if there were any technical deficiencies in the batting or that the bowling was particularly unplayable. The batsmen simply didn’t have a heart in the fight.
They seemed to throw away their wickets rather than grind it out and try to take on the Indian bowlers on the third day.
Sure, they had been kept in the field for the best part of two blazing, hot and humid days. But international sportsmen are expected to dig deep into their reserves and see through another two hours of play. Even if the odd batsman had succumbed to the heat and pressure, the rest ought to have stonewalled the attack.
Nothing of that sort happened. Instead there was a parade of batsmen to and from the pavilion in the two hours before close.
Roston Chase was batting on a face-saving 27 but six others had succumbed to Mohammed Shami (two wickets), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav while Hetmyer was run out by a sprightly Jadeja.
The interest on the morrow would be to see if the Windies recall the stirring deeds of their predecessors and fight it out at least in the second innings. Else this Test would end in three days and go down as the Windies’ most shameful performance in India. How the mighty are fallen!
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