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Prithvi showed he is different quality player, says Virat Kohli

Indian captain Virat Kohli lavished praise on Prithvi Shaw who won the man-of-the-match award for his century against West Indies in Rajkot. Prithvi Shaw is a “different quality” player and that’s why the youngster was rushed into the Test team, gushed an elated India captain Virat Kohli after the Mumbai teenager was adjudged Man-of-the-match for his century on Test debut against the West Indies. Shaw became the youngest Indian batsman, fourth overall, to score a hundred on Test debut. He began his Test journey with a 134-run knock, opening the innings for India, who thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 272 runs in the series-opener.

“Delighted for Prithvi and Jaddu. Playing his first game, seeing him dominate — the guy (Shaw) showed he is different quality. That’s why he’s been pushed to the Test team. It is exciting to see from the captain’s perspective,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation. “Jaddu as well — he has got important runs for us before and we wanted him to get three figures. We believe he can turn matches for us,” Kohli added. Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja also had a memorable game as he scored his maiden Test ton.

Kohli also credited the pace duo of Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav for putting the opposition under pressure. “If you see the first innings, the way Umesh and Shami ran into bowl. Few wickets with the new ball and you can put the opposition under pressure. Shami took wickets on a pitch that was offering nothing.”

Asked about the impressive overate, Kohli said more than the players it the umpires, who are responsible. “It was a bit to do with the umpires pushing us as well. With the new rule of not drinking water. The guys struggled a bit because of that, it was difficult for guys to bat 45 minutes without water. I’m sure they’ll look at those rules and adjust it for conditions.” Asked about the difference in conditions between Rajkot and England, where India lost the test series 1-4 last month, Kohli said the two cannot be compared. “That was a bigger challenge. We understand that with the ability we have, we will dominate in these conditions. We were very clinical,” Kohli said.

Shaw said it was a good start to his Test career and his strategy was to play like any first class domestic match. “It was a great win. Scoring myself and getting the team to a win on my debut, couldn’t have imagined it so I feel good. Whenever you play international cricket, there is always a challenge. I was looking to play my natural game, the way I play in First Class cricket, and play the ball on the merit.”

For the statistics, India defeated West Indies inside three days to win by an innings and 272 runs. The writing was clear on the wall at the end of the second day’s play. The lone talking point on Saturday morning was whether the West Indies batsmen had skills to lay anchor and stretch the match into the fourth day’s play. But India’s spinners required only 20-odd minutes into the last session to earn the remaining 14 wickets and complete a rout in the first Test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Thanks to R. Ashwin’s four wickets in the first innings and Kuldeep Yadav’s five in the second after the West Indies was made to follow on, India cruised to a record win by an innings and 272 runs. The West Indies did score at a run-rate of almost four an over but the fact that both its innings combined lasted less than 100 overs meant that the scoring rate had little impact on the eventual outcome of the match. While India will genuinely enjoy the additional two-day’ break, West Indies will have plenty to ponder if it has to be at least competitive in the concluding fixture in Hyderabad next week. West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite said lack of partnerships cost them the match. “India played well and showed us how to bat, especially. As a batting unit we didn’t get any partnerships put together and that cost us. I think the batters we have are fully capable of doing the job. We need two or three big partnerships to set it up.”

The real challenge for the Virat Kohli-led Indian team lies not in taking on an abysmal West Indies, who lost the first Test at Rajkot by a record margin, but to guard itself against any complacency that tends to creep in during victories at home, which can also lead into any false sense of security. For a team that has lost six and won four out of 10 Tests this year, India resembled that clinicalunit at Rajkot which a world No 1 team is expected to. However, such traits were far from visible for majority of tours to South Africa and England, and with an impending Australian tour, the team would be expected to stick with its new benchmarks.

But this win neither hides nor solves the issue of India’s batting woes this year, wherein they have accumulated 7 scores of under 200, five scores less than 300, and four less than 400 which includes one declaration. The failure of India’s newest opening pair of KL Rahul (0) and Shaw meant the question remained unanswered, and with Ajinkya Rahane’s lack of big scores, the team heads into the second Test at Hyderabad. Nevertheless, if it was Ashwin running riot in the hapless Caribbean camp in the morning session, it was Kuldeep in the afternoon who ran through whatever the former world dominators have showed up with in name of batting. In the process, India also became the fourth team to get to 100 victories at home after Australia, England and South Africa. Australia top the list with 238 wins out of 415 matches ahead of England's 217 in 515 Tests. South Africa feature third on the list with 104 victories in 230 matches.

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