Ajinkya Rahane hit back-to-back half centuries while skipper Virat Kohli too made a well-made fifty as India took control of the first cricket Test against the West Indies. After a career-defining 81 in the first innings, Rahane remained unbeaten on 53 while Kohli was batting on 51 as India reached 185 for three at stumps on the third day of the match on Saturday. The visitors now enjoy an overall lead of 260 runs with seven wickets in hand and two full days play remaining.
Dropped on 17 by John Campbell off Kemar Roach’s bowling, Rahane made full use of the life to register the 18th half-century of his career. Rahane and Kohli shared an unbeaten 104 runs off 41.4 overs for the fourth wicket to take India to a comfortable position in the match.
India lost three wickets after lunch but then Rahane and Kohli joined hands and the duo played without taking any risk to keep the visitors’ nose ahead. Off-spinner Roston Chase was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, picking up two wickets for 69 runs.
Opener Mayank Agarwal (16) was the first wicket to fall for India in the second innings, LBW by Chase in the 14th over although TV replays showed the ball was missing the leg stump but the batsman didn’t go for review. After Agarwal’s departure, KL Rahul (38) and Chesteshwar Pujara (25) added 43 runs for the second wicket to take India forward.
Rahul, however, gave away his wicket, bowled by Chase. He went across his stumps while going for a sweep, only to expose all the three stumps and the West Indian spinner stuck as the batsman failed to connect the ball. An over later, Roach went through Pujara’s defence to reduce India to 81 for three.
India earlier took a healthy 75 runs first innings lead, which swelled to 89 by lunch time on the third day. India bowled out West Indies for 222 in 74.2 overs in their first innings in reply to 297 with Ishant Sharma returning with best figures of 5 for 43.
Besides Ishant, Mohammed Shami (2/48) and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (2/64) scalped two wickets a piece. For West Indies, Chase top-scored with 48, while skipper Jason Holder played a fighting 39-run knock as the hosts failed to build up partnerships.
At the opening break of the third day, India were 14 for no loss in their second innings. Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 189 for eight, Holder and Miguel Cummins stuck together for 103 balls, forging a crucial 41-run partnership for the ninth wicket to take West Indies close to the Indian total.
Holder kept a calm head and guided his younger partner Cummins brilliantly to get as close as possible to the Indian total. While Holder made 39 off 65 balls with the help of five boundaries, Cummins gave his skipper the right support from the other end by just staying at the crease although he couldn’t open his account.
Cummins’ determination to stay at the crease and give his skipper company can be gauged from the fact that he played 45 balls for no runs. The Indian bowlers found it difficult to break the stubborn partnership between Holder and Cummins as they needed 85 balls in the opening session of the third day to dislodge the stand.
The partnership was finally broken when Holder edged a Mohammed Shami delivery to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant behind the stumps in the 74th over. Left-arm spinner Jadeja finally drew curtains on West Indies innings when he cleaned up Cummins an over later.