The weather was in focus more than cricket as only 22 overs were possible on day one of the final Test at Port-of-Spain, during which West Indies managed to reach 62 for 2. A drawn Test will be setback for India as far as retaining the Test rankings are concerned, since they need to win the Test to remain number one, a spot they recently reached following Sri Lanka's 3-0 thrashing of Australia. Rather surprisingly, play began half an hour late despite rain having subsided the previous evening. Also, the unavailability of a super soper meant play wasn't possible after a steady session of rain.
In the overs that were possible, India managed to eke out two wickets. But, there was no shortage of drama. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the bowling hero of the last match, moved the ball around and troubled the openers constantly. In his first spell, the medium pacer managed to get the edge of Kraigg Braithwaite's bat four times, but was unlucky on each occasion. Twice the ball fell short of the fielder, on one occasion it flew in the gap. Worst of all, skipper Virat Kohli dropped one at second slip, and then suggested that he thought the third slip, KL Rahul, should have gone for it.
West Indies managed to survive the initial burst from Kumar and Mohammed Shami, as Braithwaite in the Leon Johnson, slowly but assuredly built a partnership of 31. However, if West Indies thought the introduction of Ishant Sharma would give them relief, they were wrong. A rising delivery from the lanky pacer saw Johnson hit one straight into the hands of short leg. This was the second consecutive time, he had fallen in that manner, and after having got his eye in, it was a poor effort.
Darren Bravo was the second wicket to fall. He perished to the guile of Ravichandran Ashwin. The offie got one to pitch on middle and leg, which turned, beat the outside edge and hit the off-stump. It was a wicket well thought out. Braithwaite, in the company of Marlon Samuels, who is in desperate need of a big score, took the team closer to lunch without any further trouble before rain brought a premature close to the day.
Again, skipper Kohli made some interesting changes to the team. He dropped Shikhar Dhawan, and recalled Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay, while keeping Rohit Sharma in the side. The move meant India will have the services of only four genuine bowlers for the Test.
--By A Cricket Correspondent