In a largely forgettable two-Test Series so far for the West Indies, paceman Kemar Roach has been the shining light for the hosts. After a five-wicket haul in the first Test in Antigua, the Windies speedster picked up 3/28 in the second innings of the second Tests against India at Sabina Park in Jamaica.
Roach sent back both Indian openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal for six and four respectively and induced an edged from Indian skipper Virat Kohli for a first-ball duck — a first for Kohli in Test cricket. He almost matched Jasprit Bumrah by getting a hat-trick, when he had Rahul and Kohli dismissed off successive deliveries and then got Ajinkya Rahane’s inside-edge of the bat but the ball just missed the stumps.
Roach’s Test wicket tally now stands at 193 scalps from 55 Tests as we went past West Indies great Wes Hall, who had 192 wickets in 48 Tests.
"Of course!" Roach told the media after the third day’s play, when asked if he thought he'd got the hat-trick. "Inside edge and missing the stumps — a bit unlucky but I am pretty happy with what happened.
"It was a good feeling. Obviously, the Indian batting line-up is very strong, so to be on a hat-trick against those guys is obviously a good feeling. I'd have liked to get it, but a little more luck the next time it hits on the stumps and it will go my way, but I am pretty happy for what happened,” he added.
"I think as a bowling group there is satisfaction in how we have done so far. Kudos to the guys. Happy for myself to be, obviously, be among some of the greats, so it's a great achievement for me as well,” the 31-year-old said.
Like Bumrah, Roach also said that the key to success was bowling in partnerships.
“I think it's about bowling in partnerships. I think all teams do that — the Indian team does that very good as well,” Roach felt, praising the Indian bowling attack.
“I think with us we have been together for a while, so we understand each other, so we understand when it's time for us to hold and when it's time for us to attack and give yourself a break and let someone else get involved. I think we have been doing it very well, we are very in sync and we are communicating very well with what we want to do.
“I think the trick about it we stick together a lot, communicate very well, so we know what we are about, what roles we have to play when it comes to certain sessions, so our clarity is very clear when it comes to bowling. So, I think that's what has been working for us for the last two years. If we stick together and stand apart, I think we have big things coming for us in the next couple of test matches,” the Barbadian paceman said.
Roach also praised debutant off-spinner Rakheem Cornwall, who bagged three wickets in the first innings, even though he conceded 173 runs in the game.
"I thought he bowled really well today and the whole Test match for sure. Trying conditions against Indian batsmen who are very good against spin.
“I thought he did a fantastic job holding one end, creating some pressure and allowed the guys on the other end to get the wickets. I think he belongs, I think he has a great future for the West Indies, I hope he stays on and continue to do great things for us,” Roach said about Cornwall.
The West Indies paceman remained confident that the home side can chase down an improbable 423 more runs to win and level the series after ending Day 3 on 45 for 2.
"There is more than enough time. Two days left in the Test match. Just bat. Nothing more to be said about that. The guys haven't had a good score in this Test series so far, so it's about guys just applying themselves and going out there and being positive and put some runs on the board.
"It's flattened out a bit more. It's not as bouncy as it was the first couple of days. There is still enough there for the bowlers. Still have to apply yourself as a batsman and have to grind and get that score, but I think once you get in it gets way easier — so it's all about the guys being positive and grinding and obviously getting the score,” an optimistic Roach said.