West Indies endured a tough start to their tour of India, losing their captain Jason Holder to an ankle injury on the morning of the first Test in Rajkot. Their fielding coach Nic Pothas has revealed that Holder picked up the injury in the third week of September, when he was in Dubai, training with his team to prepare for this tour.
“I am not in a position to discuss Jason’s injury, but he felt something in Dubai in our pre-season camp,” Pothas said. “Obviously, it has not settled down as much as he or the medical staff would like. He will be monitored on daily basis, and we will wait and see how that pans out.”
With Holder unavailable, and Kemar Roach leaving the tour temporarily following the death of his grandmother, only one frontline fast bowler in West Indies’ squad – Shannon Gabriel – had played more than one Test. Keemo Paul and the debutant Sherman Lewis came into the XI in Rajkot, and West Indies struggled to bowl to plan early on.
At lunch, India were 160 for 1, scoring their runs at a rate of 5.5 an over, with debutant Prithvi Shaw on course for a hundred. West Indies tried to claw their way back into the game by taking men out of close-catching positions and putting them in the deep.
Pothas defended his team’s tactics, and thought the bowlers did fairly well to control India’s scoring rate in the second half of the day.
“It is a game of chess,” he said. “You do not want the game to run away from you early in a Test match. I thought (stand-in captain) Kraigg [Brathwaite] did fantastically well today. I think I have also learnt having played against India a lot, Virat [Kohli] would do something pretty similar. It is tough conditions, and what you do not want is to have a day that goes in excess of 400 or 420 because you keep fielders in attacking positions for too long. We had discussed this, very happy with how Kraigg has gone about the day. The bowlers stuck to the job very well.”
Pothas was particularly impressed with Gabriel’s efforts on a 39-degree day.
“Shannon has had a fantastic year,” he said. “Through the series against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, he bowled quick. We know that Shannon Gabriel can bowl quick, but the most exciting part for me was at the back end of the day he was still getting it up to 145 kilometres an hour, [at the] end of a very hot day on a pretty docile wicket. The other thing is Shannon’s attitude has been unbelievable, where we have had a pretty young bowling attack and he has stood up as a senior player, bowled his overs, and he has helped those young guys through what is a pretty tough day against some very good batters.
“You got one guy (Lewis) who is making his debut and one guy (Paul) who is playing his second Test match, so hats off to Shannon, I thought he was fantastic today.