Kolkata: A lot about the first morning of the second Test didn't seem right. The Eden Gardens stands were empty, the West Indies keeper came up to the stumps in the fourth over, and the deep point went back at the same time. For Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, though, it was business as usual as they got India off to a quick start, followed by a solid stand between Gambhir and Rahul Dravid.
In what was major respite for West Indies, Darren Sammy, who chose to open the bowling ahead of Kemar Roach, dismissed Sehwag first ball after the drinks break, for 38 off just 33 balls. Not that the end of the 66-run stand in 12 overs brought major changes to proceedings - Dravid began with a couple and a four in the same over - but any change from a threatening Sehwag would have been welcome.
From the moment they lost the toss, West Indies seemed resigned to what Sammy called "a disciplined" effort. It showed in how Roach, replacing the sick Ravi Rampaul, wasn't even given the new ball. Not that Sammy's accurate bowling made any difference. He was driven and pushed for fours in his first over after Gambhir had driven Fidel Edwards for four in his first.
In his next over Sammy asked Carlton Baugh to call for his helmet and sent the point fieldsman to the boundary. Still Sehwag and Gambhir hit a boundary each, and India were 26 at the end of four overs. Edwards managed to create an impression, though, when he hit Sehwag on the back of his head. Despite the helmet, Sehwag was left dazed for half a minute, but resumed his boundary-hitting soon enough.
West Indies did manage a boundary-less period of five overs before Sehwag hit Sammy for a hat-trick of fours in the 11th over, over mid-on, past point and over midwicket. The mid-on was sent back after the drinks break, and Sehwag tried to drag one over midwicket, but didn't find the elevation. Dravid wasn't as conspicuous but the scoreboard operators didn't miss Sehwag as Dravid raced to 18 off 16, having hit four fours without a touch of violence or exuberance.
If Sehwag's wicket had any impact, it was on Gambhir, who now seemed to have settled in for a long stay, slowing down a bit and watching the spinners, before he took a calculated risk or two to keep the rate up. One of them risks was when he late-cut a length ball from Marlon Samuels past point, the other a loft off Devendra Bishoo over midwicket. The second of those took him to 48 off 76, and his first half-century against West Indies duly arrived two balls later.
As the second-wicket stand reached 66 off 95 leading up to lunch, it seemed the humidity remained the only challenge for the batsmen. The first-Test trick showed up too, but when Bishoo deflected a straight hit onto the stumps, he turned around to find Gambhir had not backed up.