Virat Kohli was the big story of Day 1, just like the rest of 2016


The first day of this series in the Caribbean between the West Indies and India was dominated by Virat Kohli, as so much of 2016 has been. He scored his 12th Test hundred and this one came to him easier than most. He was untroubled and becalmed, finishing the day on 143 not out.This is the first bilateral series between these teams since October 2014. Back then Dwayne Bravo led a player revolt against their board (WICB) and the West Indies Player’s Association (WIPA). The team left India and the WICB were said to owe the Indian cricketing authorities (BCCI) some US $42million. They have met twice since then, both in ICC events. Once at the 2015 World Cup where India won and once at the 2016 World T20 where the West Indies ran out victors.Before this ugly incident, the West Indies were favoured tourists. When BCCI needed two Tests at home to shower affection on Sachin Tendulkar, the West Indies were the ones invited to play. Since the walk off from that ODI series in late 2014 relations between the two boards have been frayed. This four Test series is a welcome fillip for the beleaguered West Indies board; the biggest jewel in the cricketing calendar is a tour from India.Still, it is taken place at a time that suits India, not when is best for West Indies cricket. The Caribbean Premier League is happening at the same time, and as a result players have been forced to choose which they took part in. That choice was brought into stark relief when Jerome Taylor announced he was retiring from Test cricket at the age of 32, swiftly joining up with the St Lucia Zouks franchise at the CPL.So it is a team that is shorn of some of its brightest stars that takes on India over four Tests in the coming weeks. There will be no Jerome Taylor, but also no Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Sulieman Benn or Sunil Narine. Still, you can only play the team that is put in front of you, and India went into this series with their best possible players available to them and looking to dominate.While the only truly dangerous threat on this first day of the series came from the rapid Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies bowlers kept the India batsmen on a tight leash for the first session of this match. The one wicket to fall in the morning was that of Murali Vijay, bounced out by a Gabriel ball that lifted at him and was taken in the slips, but the scoring rate was soporific.A slow outfield meant that when the Indian batsmen did get shots away, they got little reward for them. There were only four boundaries in the first session as just 72 runs were scored before lunch. The West Indies bowled well and India countered it well. The first mistake came just after the lunch break when Cheteshwar Pujara attempted to pull a short ball from Devendra Bishoo and spooned it straight up in the air.As the day progressed Bishoo found more rhythm and more turn, but for the most part the Indian batsmen played him very well. That he is getting some turn on day one makes you wonder how the West Indies will cope batting last on this surface against the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra.While the West Indies bowled with patience and with accuracy, they never built any sustained pressure on the Indian top-order. They just happily went about the business of steady accumulation of runs.Shikhar Dhawan made his first Test fifty since August of last year. Dhawan began his Test career as a balls out shot merchant. This innings was all about self-restraint. Dhawan was made to work for this runs and whereas in the past he hasn’t shown this level of application, here he took on that task with some relish.Dhawan looked composed and seemed to be cruising towards a Test ton, then on the stroke of tea he played around a straight ball from Bishoo and was dismissed lbw. It was a decent ball, but the same cannot be said for the Bishoo delivery that got Ajinkya Rahane; it was a long hop that was pulled straight to mid-wicket.India vs West Indies, 1st Test, day one, as it happened: Kohli puts visitors in control at stumpsIndia in West Indies 2016: WICB announce squad for Test series, Denesh Ramdin droppedWhile four wickets fell throughout the day runs came freely. Virat Kohli made batting look easier than anyone else, but then he has been doing that for quite some time now. It was almost criminal that this sluggish outfield did not give Kohli full value for his sumptuous cover drives. Still, he brought up his half century from 75 balls as he made his first significant score in the Caribbean.In 2011, Kohli came to the West Indies and made his Test debut at Sabina Park, Jamaica. It was a struggle for him as he scored just 76 runs in three Tests at an average of 15. Five years later, he has returned and he is no longer a callow Test match novice, he is now one of the greats of his generation.Since those three Tests where he had a high score of 30, he has made 3000 further Test runs at an average of 46 with 11 hundreds and 13 fifties. While the white ball formats are where Kohli is beyond comparison, he is still a fine Test batsman and he is becoming an excellent leader.As Kohli began gliding towards his hundred he found timing the ball much more straight forward negating the slowness of this outfield somewhat. He has looked so secure that as long as he doesn’t run out of partners, he should make this hundred a double, perhaps even more than that. There is nothing in either this pitch or this West Indies attack to stop him.

At stumps, India were 302-4 and already well placed to secure a position from where they cannot lose this game. The West Indies haven’t bowled badly, they have just lacked penetration. If this is an indication of the cricket to come over this series there could be some toil for the home side to come. And a few more runs for Kohli.

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