With Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, Shane Shillingford broke a billion dreams at Eden Gardens
Thirty-year-old off-spinner Shane Shillingford has used the 'doosra' with telling effect. Normally an art used by sub-continental spinners, Shillingford's brilliant use of the delivery that turns the wrong way has foxed top Indian batsmen, including the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Prior to the India-West Indies series, question marks were raised over the exclusion of Sunil Narine, a household name in India after his exploits with Kolkata Knight Riders. Shane Shillingford and Veerasammy Permaul were the two preferred spinners in the West Indian squad and based on his first-innings performance in the first Test at Eden Gardens, Shillingford proved his worth in gold.
Having being dismissed for an under-par 234 in the first innings, the West Indian bowlers were under pressure to take early wickets and make a contest out of the first Test. India started Day 2 at 37/0, seemingly in cruise control on a two-paced wicket. However, no one would have predicted the Shillingford onslaught in the first session on Thursday, a period that usually holds a lot of promise for the new ball bowlers.
Shikhar Dhawan was the first to fall as his off-stump was pegged back after an inside edge. Playing tentatively on his back foot, Dhawan pushed at a length delivery which ricocheted off his bat onto his stumps. His opening partner, Murali Vijay, departed soon after, dancing down the track to a straighter one by Shillingford. Vijay was stranded as Denesh Ramdin removed the bails swiftly.
Sachin Tendulkar - playing his 199th and penultimate Test - walked out next to a thunderous applause and hit two boundaries off Shillingford. The off-spinner responded with a 'doosra' that struck Tendulkar on the back-pad. While the height may have been an issue, umpire Nigel Llong raised his finger to the dismay of the viewing public. It was sweet 'revenge' for Shillingford, who was out lbw to Sachin in the first innings.
Virat Kohli was Shillingford's fourth and final victim before lunch as the ball took a fine inside edge and landed in the safe hands of the short-leg fielder. India were left reeling at 83/5, with Shillingford being the destroyer-in-chief with figures of 4/53 in 17 overs at the end of the first session of play that clearly belonged to the West Indians. In the process, he also passed 50 wickets in Test cricket, in just his 1th match.
Shillingford has been long-serving warrior in domestic cricket for the Windward Islands. The 30-year-old has taken 361 wickets in 82 first class cricket with an impressive average of just 23.06. He made his Test debut against South Africa at Port-of-Spain in 2010 and went on to pick up 18 wickets in his first six Tests. After losing out on a berth to play against India in his 2011 tour, the off-break bowler has said that he plans to spoil Sachin Tendulkar's farewell series.
On a tour of Sri Lanka in 2010, Shillingford's bowling action was deemed illegal. He fought back, went through remedial training and worked his way back into the team for the home series against Australia in 2012 and picked up 14 wickets in two matches. In his next three Tests, against England and Zimbabwe, he took 20 wickets in all.
The Dominica-born bowler was named Man of the Series for picking 19 wickets against Zimbabwe in the two-Test series. Former Pakistan off-break bowler and spin doctor Saqlain Mushtaq helped the West Indies bowler deal will the pressures of expectations. With a lot of promise on offer, Shillingford seems to have learnt the tricks required to succeed on Indian wickets.