Roseau, Dominica: Yashasvi Jaiswal’s unbeaten debut Test hundred and a record opening partnership with captain Rohit Sharma provided an imposing foundation to India’s dominant 312 for two in reply to the West Indies first innings total of 150 at the close of the second day of the first Test in Dominica on Thursday.
Jaiswal’s 143 not out and Sharma’s 103, his 10th Test century, drained the enthusiasm of a Caribbean side hampered by the absence through illness of one of their main spinners, Rahkeem Cornwall, for much of a sun-drenched day.
Their opening stand of 229 is the highest ever for India in Test cricket outside of the sub-continent.
It came to an end 15 minutes before the tea interval when Sharma, having just stroked a boundary to get to three figures, gloved a delivery from West Indies debutant Alick Athanaze for alert wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva to dart forward and complete the catch.
Local hero Athanaze, who was called upon to do more work than expected with his off-spinners in Cornwall’s absence, then showed sharp reflexes at gully to remove new batsman Shubman Gill off left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican.
Jaiswal and former captain Virat Kohli (36 not out) then played watchfully through the final session and survived a few anxious moments in an unbroken third-wicket stand of 72 which sets the visitors up perfectly on day three to further extend a lead which already stands at an imposing 162 runs.
With rain forecast over the scheduled final two days of the match, it is likely that India will be hoping to get at the West Indies batsmen in the second innings by the third afternoon as they pursue a comprehensive victory to get the new cycle of the World Test Championship underway with maximum.
Jaiswal’s innings, the highest by an Indian debutant outside of his home country and the third highest for Indian debutants overall behind Shikar Dhawan (187) and Sharma himself (177), underscored not just his immense talent but also the 21-year-old’s powers of concentration and ability to adapt his game to meet the requirements of Test cricket.
“This was a really emotional experience for me,” said a tired but obviously overjoyed Jaiswal at the end of the day.
“The pitch was pretty difficult. (It spins) too much here and the outfield is really slow. It was just important for me to keep talking to Rohit and Virat and keep rotating the strike. I kept telling myself to just stay out there and kept pushing myself to perform for my country.”
In more than seven hours at the crease, the left-hander has so far faced 350 deliveries, stroking 14 fours.
Sharma’s 103 was a touch more aggressive, his innings occupying 221 balls in which he struck ten fours and two sixes before the lapse in concentration on reaching the century mark proved his undoing.
Thwarted by the discipline of the Indian top order, the West Indies hoped for a breakthrough with the second new ball late in the day and senior seamer Kemar Roach was desperately unlucky not to get a leg-before verdict against Jaiswal.
That agony was magnified when, with the home side having exhausted their available referrals, the television replays showed he would have been given out if they had the opportunity to review.