India trounces West Indies by 318 runs in Antigua

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The main advantage of being bi-national is that a victory compensates for a defeat a few hours ago.

I’ll explain. I was devastated by Australia’s one wicket loss to England in the Leeds Test last night thanks to England’s dynamic all-rounder Ben Stokes’s magical 135 not out with 11 fours and 8 sixes. Full credit to Stokes to convert a certain defeat into a thrilling last-ditch win; the last pair adding 76 glorious runs of which no. 11 batsman Jack Leach contributed only one run.

But I was revived when India trounced the West Indies by 318 runs in Antigua a few hours later.

This was India’s biggest win by runs. The heroes for this facile win were Ajinkya Rahane scoring 81 and 102 while fast bowlers Ishant Sharma (5 for 43 and 3 for 31) and Jasprit Bumrah (5 for 7 off only 8 overs, 4 being maidens) contributing equally richly to India’s triumph.

Now Bumrah has taken 5 wickets per innings in Australia, England, South Africa and West Indies. And he has played only 11 Tests. Incredible!

With opening batsman Lokesh Rahul scoring 44, then Ajinkya 81 and Ravindra Jadeja 58 India totalled 297.

Then Ishant Sharma (5 for 43) rolled out the Windies for 222 to gain a 75 run lead.

Man of the Match Rahane (102 runs) added 106 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Virat Kohli (51) and 135 runs for the fifth wicket with Hanuma Vihari (93) and India declared at 7 for 343 setting the home team a massive win target of 418 runs.

But with Bumrah and Ishant bowling splendidly, the Windies were 9 down for 50. A last wicket partnership of 50 doubled their score. Still India won by 318 runs to lead 1-0 in a two-Test series.

Said an elated Kohli at the end, “Jinx [Ajinkya Rahane] excellent in both innings, KL [Rahul] solid in both innings. Mention to Vihari too. We had to come back in this game 3-4 times, so that is a positive. Moving forward from Australia. Bumrah’s workload is most important which is why he didn’t play any white-ball games after the World Cup. He’ll be a key factor for us as long as the World Test Championship continues. Shami is the same and Ishant is a banker, reliable always…

“We are settled as our bowling options, but managing workloads will be important. Vihari got a nod because combination is important. He’s an effective part-time bowler and helps us when we need to catch up with the over-rate. We have a group discussion and then we decide what’s best for the team. There will always be opinions about the XI, but people will know that it’s in the interest of the team.

“It’s a blessing that I’m in a position where I can contribute to the team in more than one way, but nothing is possible without your team. I don’t think the credit can be taken away from the team at all. I am taking decisions, yes, but execution is done by others who raise their hand. We enjoy everyone’s company, and that’s the reason for our success. Jamaica [venue for the second Test] is another opportunity to do a professional performance. We know WI will come hard at us and we will try to plug the gaps from this Test.”

Kohli equalled MS Dhoni’s record for most Test wins as India captain.

In the newly inaugurated ICC World Test Championship, India and Sri Lanka are on top with 60 points each. Australia and England are joint number three with 32 points each. If Sri Lanka does not win the Colombo Test against New Zealand today evening, India will be on the top of the table.

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