The first test between India and the West Indies was so one sided that it flattered India’s dominant showing and made West Indies appear completely lifeless. In the second test, both those masks came off as India, under new captain Virat Kohli ran against a situation where their primary plan was put to the test and they suddenly realized that there was no spare set of plans, while the West Indies showed that beneath that pile of rubbish that is their test showing these days, there still hides a beating heart capable of some stirring stuff. What transpired was not decisive for either team – it’s not necessarily a disaster for India who looked good for the most parts and West Indies’ problems have not been all solved by a Roston Chase all round showing. But it has sown the right kind of seeds of doubt and hope that both teams needed a dose of.
India seemed complacent, lulled into it probably by West Indies’ severely callous approach in the first test and then here in the first innings of the second. They, when it came to having to make things happen during the second innings, as resistance from Shane Dowrich and Chase after four early wickets not only skidded the victory march to halt but upset its very formation, were reduced to waiting for something to happen. Godot was likely to arrive earlier than a West Indies wicket though as Kohli seemed short of imagination and his bowlers – the pacers in particular – short of inspiration. Chase’s exuberance and grit, that ultimately saw him emulate Sir Garfield Sobers (the man who was once famously brought to tears at the state of the current Windies team) in becoming the first West Indian in half a century to score a hundred and take 5 wickets in the same test, was reminiscent of the counterattacking knock of Kusal Mendis for Sri Lanka against Australia just last week that anchored a famous win.
The draw originally was looking a very improbable outcome (the odds were roughly 14-1) in a test where West Indies were shot out for less than 200 on Day 1 having elected to bat and then India grinding them down for a size able lead. But then, a bit of a statistical anomaly happened. India bowled the worst they have in the series and two West Indian batsmen started batting the best the hosts have batted in the series. In analytical sports model, such highs and lows combine to produce improbable results and/or upsets and this draw based on current form and trajectory was precisely that.
Where does that leave the upcoming test? It gives West Indies something to rally around. They know India don’t have the most solid of lineups and might want to come at them aggressively in the third test. For India and Kohli it is a question of coming up with a riposte to show who’s boss and for that they’ll need to up the intensity particularly in their bowling. Chase achieved a unique feat to anchor a thrilling draw to restore some pride just six days past Sir Gary Sobers’ birthday. What West Indies will be hoping is that this ray of hope does not turn out to be mere symbolism.