KOLKATA, India – West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford said having outfoxed a few of India’s batsmen well known for their ability to play spin well was a source of personal satisfaction for him.
Shillingford grabbed 4-130 from 41 overs to be the pick of the West Indies bowlers, but Rohit Sharma was undefeated on 127 and Ravichandran Ashwin was unbeaten on 92, as India reached 354 for six in their first innings on the second day of the first Test on Thursday at Eden Gardens for a lead so far of 120.
“It feels wonderful because I knew when I went out there it was going to be a challenge,” he said.
“I know the Indians bat very well against spin, so it’s a wonderful achievement for me to get wickets here. It’s not an easy pitch on which to bowl. I think it is a pitch on which you have to bowl the balls in the right areas and be patient.”
He added: “When I bowled on the first day after we were dismissed, I assessed the pitch pretty quickly and thought about how I would come and bowl the next day.
“I thought [on the first day] and [on Thursday] it was jumping a bit more, but it got much slower as the day proceeded. I found it’s a pitch on which you always have to be thinking about what is the best way to bowl on it.”
Shillingford said the work he did with Pakistani off-spin bowling legend Saqlain Mushtaq during a spin bowling clinic in September at the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre in Barbados was of great benefit to him.
“Working with Saqlain made me mentally tougher, in terms of self belief, which he emphasised, and he thought me to enjoy bowling out there,” he said.
“Saqi taught me a great deal about preparation for a Test match and this was one of the major lessons I took away from him at the camp.”
He said: “When we got to the spin camp, [Saqi] spoke to me about my doosra and other deliveries. He asked me to show him how I bowled it. We went into the nets and tried a few and he even bowled his own.
“The way he bowls it was very difficult for me to replicate, but he taught me a great deal about bowling with control, and how you want a batsman to play a particular delivery rather than just bowling it out of your head, you want the batsman to look to play in a particular area and the ball goes in another direction. Stuff like this he taught me was useful.”
Shillingford said he was confident West Indies could still make a fight of the Test, although Sharma and Ashwin had shared 198 for the seventh wicket and given India such a healthy lead.
“There was nothing wrong with us,” he said. “That’s cricket! Sometimes you get early wickets and then batsmen come to consolidate – and that’s where you have to dig deep.
“I think Sharma and Ashwin batted absolutely well. They stuck to the task and they put the bad balls away. They know the pitches in India and I think they handled themselves pretty well.
“The match is still wide open. This was only the second day and the third day will be very important for us. I think we have to come and stick to our plans, bowl and be patient, and when we dismiss India, decide how we want to proceed.”