West Indies 76-2 chasing 365 for series-levelling win

SUMMARY: India 438 all out from 128 overs (Virat Kohli 121, Rohit Sharma 80, Ravindra Jadeja 61, Ravichandran Ashwin 56; Jomel Warrican 3-89, Kemar Roach 3-104) and 181-2 declared from 24 overs (Rohit Sharma 57, Ishan Kishan 52*; Shannon Gabriel 1-36, Jomel Warrican 1-36) vs West Indies 255 all out from 115.4 overs (Kraigg Brathwaite 75, Alick Athanaze 37, Tagenarine Chanderpaul 33, Kirk McKenzie 32; Mohammed Siraj 5-60, Ravindra Jadeja 2-37, Mukesh Kumar 2-48) and 76-2 from 32 overs (Kraigg Brathwaite 28, Tagenarine Chanderpaul 24*, Jermaine Blackwood 20*; Ravichandran Ashwin 2-33)


Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan switched into T20 mode to set up India’s victory push on another rain-interrupted day at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Rohit hit a 35-ball half-century – his fastest in Test cricket – before a promoted Kishan pulled off a near-perfect impersonation of Rishabh Pant with a 33-ball fifty as India set West Indies 365.

The hosts closed out the day at 76-2 on a Port-of-Spain pitch that was more responsive to the spinners. The forecast for Monday is also fairly grim, so India will have to step up a gear with the ball as well if they are to beat both West Indies and the weather.

Yashasvi Jaiswal’s down-the-track six over extra-cover off the first over, bowled by Kemar Roach, was a portent for the carnage that was to follow. In Roach’s next over, Rohit lofted him over the midwicket boundary with more gusto.

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Rohit had led a charmed life – he was first dropped by Shannon Gabriel on 25 and then by Alick Athanaze on 29. Both were fairly straightforward chances, bringing West Indies’ sloppy fielding into sharp focus once again.

In the ODI World Cup qualifier in June-July, West Indies had botched a number of chances in the field, with white-ball coach Daren Sammy labelling them the “worst fielding side” around.

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Rohit made West Indies pay on Sunday before he was eventually caught at fine leg, where Alzarri Joseph didn’t mess it up. Jaiswal then helped India reach 100 off 12.2 overs – the fastest team hundred in Test cricket (where known).

When Jaiswal tried to up the ante even further, he ended up skying a slog-sweep to the wicketkeeper off Jomel Warrican for 38 off 30 balls. Inclement weather allowed only three overs in the afternoon session, but once the sun was out, Kishan successfully slog-swept Warrican to the midwicket boundary.

Kishan also flat-batted Warrican over his head before unleashing Pant-esque one-handed sixes. Moments after Kishan zoomed to his fifty with one such one-handed six, Rohit declared India’s second innings at 181-2 in 24 overs. Shubman Gill had contributed an unbeaten 29 off 37 balls to that total.

That India were in a position to push for a win was also down to Mohammed Siraj, who had dismissed West Indies for 255, from an overnight 229-5, in their first innings. Siraj, the leader of India’s inexperienced pace attack, lived up to his billing and bagged career-best figures of 5-60 in challenging conditions.

It was debutant Mukesh Kumar who had struck in the first over of the day when he pinned Athanaze lbw with an inswinger from over the wicket.

After being given out by on-field umpire Marais Erasmus, Athanaze went for a review almost immediately, but HawkEye suggested that it would have just clipped leg stump. Athanaze could count himself a bit unlucky, with ball-tracking also returning umpire’s call on impact.

In the next over, Siraj went wide of the crease, tricked Jason Holder into playing for the inward angle, but got the ball to swing away and kiss the edge. Siraj proceeded to snip off the tail with his wobble-seam inducker and outswinger. He led India’s players off the field and was warmly welcomed back by bowling coach Paras Mhambrey.

India had needed less than eight overs – and less than an hour – on the fourth morning – to bowl West Indies out in their first innings. However, there wasn’t as much swing on offer for India in an extended post-tea session. So, Siraj and co. shortened their lengths, but Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul were up for the task.

Brathwaite was busier than he was in West Indies’ first innings, driving and punching Siraj for fours. Chanderpaul spent 21 balls on two, and 62 balls without a boundary, but was largely unperturbed.

The opening partnership, though, ended on 38 when Ashwin had Brathwaite splicing a sweep to short fine leg in his fourth over. In his next over, Ashwin trapped Kirk McKenzie for a duck immediately after changing his angle to round the wicket.

Ravindra Jadeja also extracted sharp turn and bounce, but Chanderpaul and Jermaine Blackwood ushered West Indies to stumps without any further damage. (ESPNcricinfo)


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