KOLKATA, India — West Indies batsmen, led by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, their most experienced, heeded head coach Ottis Gibson’s advice and made the most of steady, if not threatening Uttar Pradesh bowling in their tour-match on Thursday here.
Chanderpaul led a strong batting performance and was unbeaten on 91, sizing up his 68th first-class hundred, as the Windies piled up 333 for four when bad light stopped play half-hour after the scheduled close with 11 overs remaining on the opening day of the three-day match at the Jadavpur University Complex.
Gibson said the previous day that his side needed to wisely use the only match they had prior to the first of two Tests against hosts India, starting next Wednesday at the nearby Eden Gardens – and they obliged him.
Narsingh Deonarine batted with confidence and was the perfect foil for Chanderpaul, his compatriot, fellow left-hander and player from whom he has modelled his game, sharing 170 – unbroken – for the fifth wicket. He was not out on 83.
Kieran Powell, another southpaw, held steady in the opening spot with 64 and Darren Bravo, the fifth of the left-handers in the West Indies top six, was typically smooth with 61.
Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels were the only two that failed to miss out – victims of a bit of inconsistent bounce from the unfamiliar pitch – but they too, promised much and will no doubt look to make their presence felt when and where it matters most.
Play started an hour later than scheduled due to a wet outfield – but overcast skies gave way to hazy sunshine and West Indies were blessed with first use of a docile pitch and a quick outfield after they won the toss.
Gayle started the show with a crisp straight drive off beanpole fast-medium bowler Ankit Rajpoot and Powell flicked Rudra Pratap Singh, the discarded India left-arm fast bowler, through backward square leg for his first boundary to get off the mark.
Just when it looked like Gayle had anchored himself, he was bowled for 18, dragging on a delivery – from medium-fast bowler Imtiaz Ahmed – that kept a bit low.
West Indies reached 37 for one at lunch before Bravo, in particular, and Powell emerged from the interval to gallop the scoring rate with attractive stroke-play all around the wicket.
Bravo was fortunate on 18, when Singh dropped him on 18 at backward point off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, but he kept his composure to reach his 50 from 57 balls in just under 1¼ hours with a single to square leg off the same bowler.
Typically, Powell looked like the Rock of Gibraltar and reached his 50 from 99 balls in just under 2¼ hours, whipping the first ball from Singh at the start of a new spell from the Pavilion End through mid-wicket for his ninth boundary.
The two young left-handers literally had the Uttar Pradesh bowling at their mercy, putting on 112 for the second wicket until Bravo too, was undone by a bit of inconsistent bounce and was bowled off the inside edge, sparking a wobbly 15-minute period for West Indies.
Powell followed in the next over, when he misread a delivery from off-spinner Arish Alam and was bowled and Samuels hit a few silky strokes before he was caught behind for 12 essaying a back-foot drive at a delivery from Ahmed that grew on him.
West Indies had sunk from 145 for one to 163 for four, but Deonarine came to the crease about half-hour before the rescheduled tea break and spent the rest of the day batting with Chanderpaul.
Deonarine batted with crisp assurance, mixing sound defence with rasping strokes, taking West Indies to 194 for four at tea.
After the break, he raced to his 50 from 54 balls, when he lofted Rajpoot straight for the last of his two sixes, but he put away his shots late in the day, allowing Chanderpaul to reach his 50 from 94 balls and overtake him before the close.
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
C. Gayle b Imtiaz Ahmed 18
K. Powell b Alam 64
D.M. Bravo b R.P. Singh 61
M. Samuels c wkpr Amir Khan b Imtiaz Ahmed 12
S. Chanderpaul not out 91
N. Deonarine not out 83
Extras (lb4) 4
TOTAL (4 wkts, 79 overs) 333
+D. Ramdin, *D. Sammy, T. Best, V. Permaul, S. Cottrell to bat
Fall of wickets: 1-33, 2-145, 3-149, 4-163
Bowling: R.P. Singh 14-2-46-1, Rajpoot 6.3-1-29-0, Imtiaz Ahmed 16-4-68-2, Chawla 19-2-91-0, Gupta 7.3-0-38-0, Alam 16-2-57-1
UTTAR PRADESH: T. Srivatsava, M. Dagar, M. Kaif, Parvinder Singh, P. Gupta, A. Alam, *P. Chawla, +Amir Khan, R.P. Singh, Imtiaz Ahmed, A. Rajpoot
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: U. Gandhe, C. Shamsuddin
Match referee: B. Kalyanasundaram