You expect one thing. Something else happens. That’s the beauty of sport. India scoring at an acceptable run rate on the first day of the first Test in a four-match series against a lower-ranked team is expected. A little unexpected was all the jumping and hopping around to a fast bowler playing only his second Test against India on a pitch expected to slow down over time. Equally disappointing was the manner in which almost a session’s hard work was wasted in the first over after lunch.For the first session, Shannon Gabriel was the lone ranger, stretching India’s patience as well as wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich’s gloves trying to push for something to happen. Something did happen, but not to the batsmen who looked most susceptible to Gabriel’s bustling pace and bounce. Here was Murali Vijay content with either leaving the ball or showing the face of his bat, pushing forward or retreating according to the length of the delivery. On the other hand was Shikhar Dhawan who was more grit and less footwork.It was Dhawan though who scored India’s first boundary, rocking back to pull Jason Holder over deep square-leg in the second over. Next over, Vijay opened his arms to drive a boundary between gully and point. Looking in far better control, Vijay started taking more of the strike till a time when he had faced thrice the deliveries that had gone Dhawan’s way.But Gabriel looked to bowl to a plan. While Holder started bowling a fuller length from the other end, Gabriel decided to pitch it shorter by the time he caught Dhawan again in his crosshair. Dug in short, the first one reared up to catch Dhawan by surprise. Shaping to flick it, Dhawan could barely manage it off his ribcage. Next delivery whizzed past Dhawan’s eyes to DowricEven Vijay wasn’t spared but he showed better technique and watched the ball till the last moment.Thus it was unexpected when it was Vijay who fell to Gabriel. And to be fair to him, it was that kind of a delivery, jutting in after pitching and suddenly climbing on Vijay before he could even react properly.Vi j ay ’s replacement Cheteshwar Pujara was possibly the best batsman in that situation. Opening his account with the ninth ball he faced, Pujara went on to face two more overs of disciplined pace bowling after Carlos Brathwaite almost got through Dhawan’s gates with an inside edge. Before that, Dhawan had edged Holder and looked off colour against Gabriel whose first spell read 4-2-6-1.Brathwaite was miserly but Roston Chase finally gave India that much needed recovery period. Dhawan got his breath back, started cutting the ball better as Pujara went about picking singles and downing the shutters when required.Having done the hard work in the first session, Pujara should have ideally got into acceleration mode but that is when Devendra Bishoo struck. Pujara’s eyes lit up seeing a mediocre short ball but went too early for the shot.Virat Kohli’s entry only made Dhawan look more relaxed. He took on Bishoo after Kohli softened him up with a cover drive. Gabriel returned but didn’t look as effective with the older ball, allowing Dhawan to flourish and get to a much-needed fifty before hitting his tormentor for a six over third man.
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