Port of Spain: Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja combined in an unbroken century partnership for India to regain the ascendancy over West Indies at 288 for four at stumps on Thursday, the opening day of the second and final Test.
After being put in to bat at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, India started strongly before faltering in the afternoon session.
After tea, Kohli played with the exaggerated caution of a man keen to leave a significant mark on the 500th international match. His unbeaten 87 (161 balls, eight fours) with the support of Jadeja (36 not out) put India back in command.
Their stand of 106 frustrated the Caribbean team in a long final session with captain Kraigg Brathwaite resorting to his own loopy off-breaks in search of a breakthrough.
It was a different tempo at the start, with skipper Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal picking up where they left off in the first Test.
At Windsor Park Stadium a week earlier, they put on 229 for the first wicket to lay the platform for a crushing victory by an innings and 141 runs in three days.
This time they blazed 121 by lunch and added another 18 in the afternoon before Jason Holder finally brought much-needed discipline to the West Indies bowling.
He was rewarded with the wicket of Jaiswal for 57 via a low catch at deep gully by debutant batsman Kirk McKenzie.
That was the trigger for a mini-slide as Shubman Gill went caught behind to Kemar Roach for 10, his second consecutive failure at number three. Sharma followed, bowled for 80 by a perfectly pitched delivery from left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane seemed to have weathered the mid-afternoon storm only for Shannon Gabriel, the second change to the West Indies from the first Test, to uproot Rahane’s off-stump on the stroke of tea.
“It felt like the heavens came down because not much was happening out there,” said an exhausted Gabriel, reflecting on his lone wicket of the day.
“We were all over the shop in the first session and worked out our plans a lot better at lunch and got the reward. On a pitch like this, with hardly anything in it for the bowlers, we’re happy to have taken four wickets.”
Mukesh Kumar debuts
India are giving a debut to right-arm fast-medium bowler Mukesh Kumar in place of seam bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur.
This is the 100th Test match between the West Indies and India since the first was played in Delhi in November, 1948 at the start of the Caribbean side’s historic inaugural tour to the sub-continent.
Despite being winless against their opponents for more than 21 years, the West Indies still lead India 30-23 in Test victories across the 99 matches.