Rain can often play spoil sport in a cricket match and when one team is clearly on the verge of an easy win, it’s at this juncture that untimely rain hurts the most as not only does it give the team in less likelihood of winning the match a chance to stay in the match but very much makes the match come into a standstill with a no result looking likely.
Something similar happened in the 2nd test of India vs West Indies wherein the day 4th was a major washout with less than a session being played, in spite of such short duration of the day’s play, the Indian cricket team still managed to make the most of it and make a game out of the remaining day. The Indian seamers adhered to the strategy of bowling the right line and length, making sure that whatever little chance they had of going at the West Indian batsman did not go in vain and that they got some crucial wickets in, which ought to ease up some pressure coming into day 5.
It was yet another sorry tale for the West Indian top order that in aggregate could only score 48, which at the international level just doesn’t qualify as being acceptable. The opening duo of Brathwaite and Chandrika yet again failed, getting out to Mishra and Sharma respectively. Darren Bravo got a 20 before he was held victim to a good spell from Mohammed Shami. Samuels, undoubtedly the most reliable of the West Indian batsman went out for a duck and that really put the brakes of any run scoring from the batting unit, if anything, a draw looked inevitable as the batsmen to follow were not highly experienced of playing at international stage and the pressure of saving the match against a quality Indian team seemed like a task too hard to accomplish.
The West Indian team came into day 5 with 4 wickets down and the score 48-4, the trail was still beyond 200 and the Indian team looked well in balance to not only win the match but do with relative comfort – the 2 batsmen in middle were Blackwood and Chase.
Blackwood showed signs of positive aggression in the first innings with a run a ball 62 and he continued with similar momentum in this innings also as he took on the Indian attack with some much needed counter attacking that took some pressure off the West Indian dug-out, Blackwood made a 86 ball 63 before Ashwin got the better off him. At the point of losing their 5th wicket, West Indies team still looked ahead to surviving more than 2 sessions on the last day and with the pitch showing signs of tearing and spinners getting some purchase, adding to which the slow outfield and the pressure of the crowd – was a draw really possible! An easy answer said – it needed a miracle, nothing more, nothing less.
Chase, the man who came into the side in place of spinners like Benn, Narine, Shillingford, Badree, Permaul – 5 big names and all 5 of whom are much senior to Chase in terms of international experience, the onus of performing thus was all the more on Chase whose entry into the side was already a matter of controversy within the range of experts.
Chase however was hardly bothered by it and there were no signs of nervousness showing in his personality – be it batting to save the test match or bowling and taking 5 wickets in the first innings of India – proving his mettle with the ball and holding his ground of deserving a place in the West Indies international side.
The last 2 sessions of day 5 of the 2nd test were no short of frustrating for the Indian fans and no short of exemplary for the West Indian fans – who after many years could say that they were proud of the cricket that their team showed on the field.
Chase along with Dowrich – the latter being another controversial pick into the side, replacing Ramdin in the last test, someone who has played for West Indies through the last decade and has hardly ever been dropped was left out of this series by selectors, who stated “his average isn’t good enough”. With the selectors having such high hopes from their wicketkeeper-batsman, it surely wouldn’t have been easy for Dowrich to come into the side and start performing and yet he already impressed – with runs already under his belt in the series, perhaps giving him confidence to save the match and survive some crucial overs of the Indian bowlers, tiring them down.
Chase and Dowrich were perfect combination of what one can call “aggression well timed”, the two were unfearful in their approach and were never shy of putting the bad ball to the boundary, Kohli being as aggressive as he can be as the Indian captain was still clueless of how to get these 2 relatively young West Indian batsmen out. Ashwin, Mishra, Shami, Ishant, Umesh – none of the Indian bowlers were troubling the two and they put on a partnership above 100 runs.
The partnership did come to an end though but in the saddest way possible, with Dowrich been given out, wrongly we must add – by the umpire Ian Gould, who gave LBW to Dowrich even though he had edged the ball. With the series not having DRS implementation, the West Indian wicketkeeper-batsman was in disarray at the decision but could do nothing to get it overturned; the day still had in excess of 2 hours remaining to survive.
The next batsman in was the captain, Jason Holder and he played an innings that truly goes in the books as the perfect “captain’s knock”, this alongside Chase who became the first West Indian all-rounder since 1966, after Sir Garfield Sobers, to take 5 wickets and score a century in the same match – a record worth cherishing.
Chase not only accomplished the record but it was by the virtue of his incredible 137* and Holder’s 64* that West Indies drew the 2nd test and snatched away a probable victory from the hands of the Indian team. West Indies finished the test match at 388/6, scoring at 3.73 to the over.
Chase was declared man of the match. India lead the series 1-0.