Basseterre (St Kitts), July 11: The opening warm-up match between Indian team-led by Virat Kohli and West Indies Cricket Board President XI ended in a draw here on Sunday (July 10).
The first two-day match gave an opportunity to the Indian side to get used to the Caribbean pitches and conditions.
Spinner Amit Mishra's impressive four-wicket-haul was the high point for Indians on the second day while Shai Hope's unbeaten century was the highlight of West Indies Cricket Board President's XI innings.
Batting first the guests declared overnight on 258 for 6 on the opening day while WICB Board President's XI were 281 for seven when play was called off.
Here are the key highlights of the 1st practice game:
1. Good opening stand by Rahul-Dhawan:
India's opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan (51) and KL Rahul (50) provided a solid platform as India reached 108 for no loss in 35 overs, half an hour after lunch on the first day of the two-day opening warm-up fixture against West Indies Board Presidents' XI.
Left-handed Dhawan looked compact as his 50 came off 88 balls with seven boundaries while Rahul looked equally comfortable during his half-century that took him 99 balls with five fours and six.
Middle order batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma also played well. Rohit remained not out on 54 after playing 109 deliveries while Pujara was retired out after scoring 34 in 102 balls at te strike rate of 33.33.
2. Kohli, Rahane depart cheaply: A concern for the team?
Team India's two most consistent performers in the longer-format of the game i.e. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane both failed to perform in the first warm-up game. Skipper Kohli departed after scoring 14-off-40 he faced while Rahane made just 5 runs off 25 deliveries.
Kohli-Rahane's poor show isn't good for the side as these two are the backbone of the young Indian side. Thus, all eyes will be on Kohli and Rahane during the second practice match.
3. Amit Mishra impresses with his spin:
India came out to bowl on the second day of the practice match. In India's lead spinner R Ashwin's absence leg-spinner Amit Mishra shone with four wickets but the Indian pace battery was far from impressive. Mishra returned with figures of 4/67, after guests declared at their overnight score of 258 for six.
As soon as he was brought in for a short three-over spell before lunch, Mishra got good purchase from the slow pitch and troubled the batsmen by bowling the googly sporadically. The home team batsmen were in doubts - whether to play the leg-spinner on the front or backfoot. And Mishra took advantage of that in the second session.
3. Impatient Indian seamers disappoint:
Due to overcast sky and intermittent showers, the opportunity was there for the Indian seamers to exploit the conditions, but they let it slip with with their inconsistent showing.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, returning to competitive cricket after a long injury lay-off, began the proceedings on the right note. Kumar managed to get the red cherry to swing both ways. On the other hand, Shami worked up good pace and tested the batsmen outside the off-stump.
However, suddenly, the visiting bowlers seemed to have lost their plot and looked direction-less. They began impatient after the batsmen denied them after spending some time at the crease.
The hosts lost their first wicket at the score of 7, but it took the Indians to give 122 more runs before getting the second break through. This proves that the guests couldn't capitalise on the overcast conditions.
Indians bowled too wide outside the off stump, and the batsmen had no hesitation in leaving them. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma too were inconsistent and could not get a breakthrough, though Umesh bowled one beautiful delivery that jumped and jagged back at the batsman from short of length.
Seamers Kumar, Shami and Umesh picked up a wicket apiece while Ishant was the only bowler to go wicketless.
Shai Hope hits century for the home side:
Shai Hope's unbeaten century was the highlight of West Indies Cricket Board President's XI innings on the second and final day of the opening practice game. 22-year-old Hope, who has so far played six Tests for the West Indies, spent 355 minutes at the crease while facing 229 balls. His knock at the Warner Park featured 15 fours.
After not getting desirable results from the first warm-up game, it will be interesting to see what game plan skipper Virat Kohli comes up with in the next practice match, starting on July 14.