Sachin Tendulkar India
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates with teammates after picking up the wicket of West Indies batsman Shane Shillingford. BCCI Official Website
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates with teammates after picking up the wicket of West Indies batsman Shane Shillingford. BCCI Official Website
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates with teammates after picking up the wicket of West Indies batsman Shane Shillingford. BCCI Official Website

Sharp at 8.30 am IST, all eyes at Eden Gardens in Kolkata went towards four men in the middle of the ground, and on a coin that flipped its way into the air before dropping down. So, will Sachin Tendulkar be batting on the first day in Kolkata in his epic 199th Test match?

The answer, much to everyone's disappointment, started with a no as Darren Sammy won the toss and chose to bat first, consigning Tendulkar and the rest of the India side, with a couple of interesting debutants, to the field.

That answer then became a maybe, with the India bowlers, led by debutant Mohammed Shami (four for 71), coming to the fore to bowl the West Indies out for 234, as the visitors self-destructed a little losing their final eight wickets for just 96 runs.

It finally, however, did prove to be a no as the openers - Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay - comfortably saw off the final 12 overs of the day as India finished the first day on 37 for no loss, trailing West Indies by 197 runs.

With the ball though, Tendulkar did have a say, such is the magic of the man and the moment. India skipper MS Dhoni, with one over remaining to Tea, gave the ball to Tendulkar, who with his leg-spinners picked up a wicket to leave West Indies teetering on 192 for seven in 62.4 overs at Tea before the visitors were bowled out for 234 as the dust settled.

Earlier, Dhoni, who would also no doubt have batted first on a slow, dry pitch, and the rest of the powers-that-be decided to give Rohit Sharma, fresh and raring to go after his outstanding one-day series against Australia, and Shami, also impressive in that recently-concluded series, their debuts, with six batsmen, expectedly preferred to playing an extra bowler.

As Tendulkar strolled into the ground, a huge cheer broke out, and from there on it was the business of Test match cricket as usual.

The two India opening pacers - Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami - started pretty well, inducing a couple of streaky edges off a nervous-looking Chris Gayle, loved and admired aplenty on these shores.

Mohammed Shami impressed with four wickets on his debut. BCCI Official Website
Mohammed Shami impressed with four wickets on his debut. BCCI Official Website

Kieran Powell, who was one of the standout players for West Indies A in their recent tour of India, on the other hand, looked good at the other end with a focus on taking the attack to the bowlers.

Gayle hung around, rather unconvincingly, for 32 deliveries, managing an always-brisk 18 runs, before Kumar found the almost inevitable outside edge - Murali Vijay completing a comfortable catch in the slips.

With the pitch already showing signs of help for the spinners, Dhoni brought R Ashwin into the attack, but the off-spinner did not have his usual way with the ball as Powell took to him in the very first over, smashing a couple of delightful shots over the top for boundaries.

However, the left-hander's dangerous-looking stay came to an abrupt end, much to the relief of India, with Shami picking up his first ever Test match wicket. Powell looked to pull a short ball outside off to the boundary, but only managed to mistime it to mid-off with Kumar running around to complete a smart catch.

The West Indies were 47 for two at that point and needed Lara-like Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels to settle things down. And settle the match down they did, with Bravo dropping anchor and letting Samuels to take the attack to the bowlers.

There are few more dangerous batsmen in cricket than Samuels, on a tear, and the right-hander looked in the mood dispatching pretty much every single bad delivery, while also tonking a couple of decent ones as well.

That show of aggression tilted the first session the West Indies' way with the visitors going into Lunch, a quite early one at 11 am IST, on 107 for two.

West Indies began the post-Lunch session pretty well, with Samuels racing to his fifty in no time and looking well on his way to a hundred.

However, Mohammed Shami (three for 69) would give India the edge with a terrific spell of reverse-swing bowling - thanks to a change of the ball, it must be said - first knocking off the middle stump of Samuels (65, 98b, 11x4, 2x6), dropped in the previous over by Dhoni off Ojha, before sending Denesh Ramdin packing with a similar in-dipping delivery.

Darren Bravo, who allied for 91 runs with Samuels, ran himself out in between the two Shami wickets, as India picked up three in three overs to send the now-sizeable crowd to their feet.

Sachin Tendulkar rolling his arm over against the West Indies. BCCI Official Website
Sachin Tendulkar rolling his arm over against the West Indies. BCCI Official Website

Darren Sammy then threw his wicket away, caught in the deep while trying to smash a six off Pragyan Ojha, before the first two sessions was capped off by Tendulkar (2-1-5-1), with Shane Shillingford, who had hung around for 12 overs with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, trapped in front of the wicket by a straight delivery from the great man.

R Ashwin (two for 52) picked up his first wicket, dismissing tail-ender Veerasammy Permaul caught and bowled, before the off-spinner got one to sneak in through the seemingly impregnable defences of Chanderpaul (36, 79b, 3x4).

Shami then had little trouble in cleaning up fellow debutant Sheldon Cottrell, as the India fast bowler sent the wickets cartwheeling for the third time in the innings to assert his dominance in emphatic style.