‘The plan was to be consistent and bowl maiden overs, and force the batsmen into playing bad shots’
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who took four wickets in the first innings to help India enforce the follow-on, said considering the slow nature of the pitch, bowling as many maiden overs as possible was their plan to create pressure on the West Indies' batsmen.
West Indies were bowled out for 243 in their first innings in response to India's 566 for eight declared and then were asked to follow-on. At stumps on the third day of the first Test, the hosts finished at 21 for 1.
Incidentally, of the 103.2 overs India have bowled to West Indies so far in the Antigua Test, 34 have been maidens.
"It is all about planning. Before the game we planned about bowling as many maiden overs as possible and frustrate the batsmen. We didn't want to give them easy runs and we stuck to our plan, and the results came," Yadav said.
"On such wickets a lot of hard work is needed and you need to hold on to half chances. If we don't, then wickets won't come and it would be difficult to take 20 wickets, as the pitch would slow down even more. So the plan was to be consistent and bowl maiden overs, and force the batsmen into playing bad shots," he added.
Skipper Virat Kohli set some attacking fields and they worked wonders as Yadav (4-41) and comeback man Mohammed Shami (4-66) shared eight wickets between them to rock the West Indies' batting line-up.
"We decided the field placements beforehand because there wasn't anything in the wicket for fast bowlers. Even the wind was affecting our bowling, sometimes it was moving the ball a bit more and sometimes it was not reversing as well. So we were talking continuously as to what we should do to grab half chances even if they come to us," said the pacer.
Talking about his pace colleague Shami's impressive return to Test cricket after sitting out for nearly 18 months owing to an injury, Yadav said, "He (Shami) is a natural bowler. He is not struggling after injury and he is completely fit now. He doesn't need to be told where to bowl. He is a smart bowler and he has inswing, outswing and a good bouncer. He is a complete and a very talented bowler."
India went into the ongoing Test with five bowlers, including three genuine fast bowlers, and Yadav lauded the chemistry among the group.
"Our chemistry is very good. We always give confidence to each other and push each other through tough times on such wickets. I can see that Shami is bowling very well but he is not getting wickets. So my job is to go and compliment him and tell him to keep going. Because I know if he is bowling well from one end it will only help the other bowler from the other end. Wickets won't come otherwise, we have to plan to bowl dot balls and maidens," he said.
The West Indies still trail India by 302 runs and with two days remaining, the hosts need a massive batting effort to deny a 1-0 lead to the visitors in the four-Test series.
Yadav said even though the batsmen had put on huge 566 runs on the board, the bowlers were in no mood to relax.
"We didn't look at 566 runs at all. We just bowled as if we had only 350 runs because we wanted to get them out as early as possible. That will make things better for us in the second innings because the longer they batted, in the second innings it would be tough to get 10 wickets then. So, at the start of the match we were thinking of getting them out today and now we can get them out again in the next two days," Yadav signed off.