Former Proteas ODI wicketkeeper Nic Pothas was proud of the way the West Indies bowlers stuck to their task on day one of the first Test against India.
Pothas is the fielding coach for the West Indies and played three ODIs for the Proteas during his career, and highlighted the fact that the loss of captain Jason Holder through an ankle injury picked up during training was a tough blow for the team.
‘I am not in a position to discuss Jason’s injury, but he felt something in Dubai in our pre-season camp,’ said Pothas. ‘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.’
Holder’s absence (along with Kemar Roach having left the tour following a family bereavement) left the once mighty West Indies fielding just a single frontline paceman against a strong Indian batting lineup, which allowed Sherman Lewis to make his Test debut.
The morning session didn’t go well for the West Indies, as India stormed through to lunch on 160-1 (run rate 5.5) as Test debutant Prithvi Shaw powered his way to a century on his Test debut off just 99 balls. The West Indies stuck to their game plan and managed to put the squeeze on India later in the day to restrict the run rate.
‘It is a game of chess,’ added Pothas. ‘You do not want the game to run away from you early in a Test match. I thought Kraigg Brathwaite did fantastically well today (as stand-in skipper). I think I have also learned 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.’
Shannon Gabriel’s stint with the ball in the 39-degree heat impressed Pothas in particular.
‘Shannon has had a fantastic year. 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, (after) 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.’
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