West Indies’ talisman Shivnarine Chanderpaul cracked an impressive 111 not out to pull his side out of trouble on the opening day of the first Test against India on Sunday in New Delhi.
The veteran left-hander hit two sixes and seven fours in his 24th Test hundred, and seventh against India, as the West Indies recovered from 72-3 to reach 256-5 in their first innings at stumps after winning the toss.
He has so far added 56 runs for the unfinished sixth-wicket stand with Carlton Baugh, who was unbeaten on 19.
Chanderpaul, who scored a century in his last Test against India, in Dominica in July, received valuable support from teenager Kraigg Brathwaite (63), who defied the Indian attack for more than four hours.
Chanderpaul reached his hundred in the last session when he swept left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha for a single.
The 37-year-old never looked in trouble against India’s bowling attack as he played handsome shots during his 167-ball knock, lofting Ojha and debutant off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for sixes.
Ojha finished with 3-58 off 29 overs and Ashwin with 2-79 off 25 overs.
“The wicket was pretty good so I wanted to bat aggressively. Ojha and Ashwin bowled well even though there was not much help in the wicket,” said Chanderpaul.
“He (Brathwaite) was unfortunate to miss out on a hundred after crossing 50 for the second time. He was playing according to his own gameplan.”
Brathwaite, who turns 19 next month, hit just four boundaries in his patient 212-ball knock for his second Test half-century in four matches before being stumped by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Ojha.
India’s inexperienced bowling attack struggled on a slow pitch after taking three wickets for 72 runs as Brathwaite and Chanderpaul put on 108 for the fourth wicket to steady the West Indies.
Paceman Ishant Sharma, who went wicketless, was returning to the side after recovering from an ankle injury while Ojha played his first Test in a year. Ashwin and seamer Umesh Yadav made their Test debuts.
Ojha bagged two wickets in the first session and Ashwin one in the second to put pressure on the West Indies.
“There was not much help in the wicket. Chanderpaul played a great innings and the wicket of Brathwaite gave pleasure because I beat him in flight,” said Ojha.
He trapped opener Kieran Powell (14) leg-before in his second over and then held a return catch to dismiss Kirk Edwards (15) before accounting for Brathwaite in the last session.
Ashwin got his maiden Test wicket when he dismissed Darren Bravo, who was bowled while attempting to cut in the first over after the lunch-break. He then had Marlon Samuels (15) caught behind for his second victim.
Bravo, who smashed 195 in his previous Test innings, against Bangladesh in Dhaka last week, contributed 12 runs.
Pressed into the attack after just nine overs, Ojha had an opportunity to remove Powell in his opening over but failed to hold on to a return catch. The batsman fell in the next over.
India went into the opening Test of a three-match series with two pacemen, Sharma and Yadav, and as many spinners, Ashwin and Ojha.
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the world’s leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket, needs just one hundred to complete an unprecedented 100 international centuries.
The remaining two Tests will be played in Kolkata and Mumbai.