India A hoping to pocket series in Kingstown
Cheteshwar Pujara led from the front in the series opener in Bridgetown, Barbados with half centuries in both the innings. Chasing a modest 186, India were in doldrums at five for 68 before Pujara played a captain`s knock to guide the visitors to a thrilling win.
Pujara, who struck a 50 in the first innings, was patience personified during his 96-run unbeaten knock in the second essay. He added 73 runs with number 10 batsman Shami Ahmed (27) to steer India after a spectacular collapse jeopardised the visitor`s chances.
Apart from Pujara, Rohit Sharma seemed in good nick in Barbados with scores of 94 and 23, while Manoj Tiwary (40) and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha (56) also made useful contributions in the first innings. But going into the second match of the series, the major concern for India would be the performance of its top-order.
Both the openers – Abhinav Mukund and Shikhar Dhawan – have failed to provide India a good start, and to add to the woes Ajinkya Rahane looked a pale shadow of himself at the crucial number three position.
Pujara, however, took a giant stride towards Test breakthrough by virtue of his mature knocks and would be hoping to carry on his good form in the remaining matches.
Contrary to the inconsistent performance of their batting colleagues, the Indian bowlers, however, were right on the money in both the innings, dismissing the hosts for modest scores of 252 and 210.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shafi Ahmed were the stand out performers among the pacers with five wickets apiece from the match, while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and part-timer Rohit Sharma shared the honours in the spin department.
India`s most experienced bowler Ashok Dinda, however, looked out of sorts and will be desperate to prove his mettle in second four-day match.
West Indies A, on the other hand, would be hoping to turn things around in order to keep the series alive. Just like the Indians, the Caribbean team has been hit hard by the inconsistent showing of its batsmen.
The onus would be on the opening duo of Kraigg Brathwaite and Lendl Simmons to provide a solid start to the West Indies innings, which will set the platform for the likes of Devon Smith, Nkrumah Bonner and skipper Veeraswamy Permaul to fire in the middle order.
In the bowling department, it was a complete pace show for the West Indies in the first match with the trio of Delorn Johnson, Jason Holder and Jonathan Carter accounting for all the Indian wickets.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who returned empty-handed from the series opener, would be hoping to make a mark in the second Test at the Arnos Vale ground here.