Port of Spain: Virat Kohli’s 29th Test century highlighted a solid batting effort by India in getting to 438 batting first against the West Indies on the second day of the second and final Test at in Trinidad on Friday.
In response, on a Queen’s Park Oval pitch offering little assistance for the bowlers, the home side were well placed at 86 for one in reply at the close. A repeat of the swift demolition West Indies suffered in the first Test in Dominica a week earlier seemed unlikely.
With a sense of occasion befitting someone of his vast experience and considerable success, Kohli reached three figures within minutes of the start of the day from his overnight score of 88.
A square-driven boundary off fast bowler Shannon Gabriel took Kohli to the landmark in his 500th international match and his determined demeanour throughout the innings suggested a monumental effort was in the making by the 34-year-old.
He was undone by an error of judgement when he was run out for 121. Alzarri Joseph’s direct hit at the non-striker’s end from square-leg found Kohli just short of his ground as he scampered a single.
Kohli’s innings spanned four-and-a-half hours. He faced 206 deliveries, stroking 11 fours. He dominated an important 159-run fifth-wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja which restored India’s ascendancy after a mid-afternoon wobble on the first day when they slipped to 182 for four.
“This was an opportunity for me to stand up for the team and these are the sorts of occasions where I switch on completely,” said the former captain on his first Test hundred outside of India for more than four years.
“The stats and milestones and all of that are for others to talk about,” he emphasised. “If I do it in a situation where the team needs me that is more special because in 15-20 years’ time the milestones won’t matter but what will remain is the impact you left on the field and how you were able to help your team.”
Jadeja’s was the other wicket to fall in the morning session for a composed 61. He was adjudged caught behind off Kemar Roach, television umpire Michael Gough overturning the “not out” verdict by on-field official Marais Erasmus.
Ravichandran Ashwin held the rest of the innings together before being last out to Roach for a 78-ball knock of 56. Roach and left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican led the bowling effort with three wickets each.
Destroyer of the West Indies at Windsor Park Stadium, Ashwin, like all the Indian bowlers, found the placid pitch much less responsive.
It was only a poor shot by Tagenarine Chanderpaul in the final session which brought about his demise to Jadeja, leaving captain Kraigg Brathwaite and debutant Kirk McKenzie to carry the home side into the third day.