Ajinkya Rahane’s seventh Test century helped India take a stranglehold of the second Test in Jamaica after declaring at 500/9 on the third day. However by the time they declared, a long-predicted rain too had arrived. Almost two hours of play was lost due to rain in a few patches. India still have two more days --- thunderstorm permitting --- and a massive 304-run lead to force a result and take an unprecedented 2-0 lead in the series.
Rahane came up with a century crafted in difficult times. He was given support by Wriddhiman Saha till lunch but after that he was on his own against a West Indies bowling attack eager to make an impression. However, barring the entertaining cameo from Umesh Yadav, cricket on Emancipation Day was far from deliberating. West Indies were content bowling defensive lines and India looked equally happy to play the patient game. It yielded only 67 runs in the first session before things picked up towards the end when Rahane realised he might run out of partners.
At the start, Saha looked a little edgy at times but Rahane was so assuring that India kept inching towards a big total with each over. He drove and cut beautifully when not looking to defend. There were a couple of leg-before appeals though that Rahane survived against Jason Holder. The first was closer but the ball was just going down the leg. The second, according to replays, showed the ball flying just over the stumps. The biggest chance, however, came in the 147th over when Rajendra Chandrika dropped Rahane in the 147th over.
Devendra Bishoo’s delivery wasn’t short enough to play the cut but Rahane took his chance anyway. The ball took a top edge and went to point but Chandrika failed to hold on. West Indies’ day also started with an eventful over from Shannon Gabriel that saw Saha’s edge fall short of second slip. Rahane however got India going with a boundary glanced off his hips in the next over from Miguel Cummins. It was against Cummins in the next over that Rahane brought up his fifty by cutting him hard over the slip cordon.
Saha scored three boundaries in the morning session, including one over mid-off after coming down the track to Bishoo but he largely got his runs with some brisk running between the wickets. Both Rahane and Saha continued to leave balls bowled just outside off-stump but given the position India are in, they could have picked up the scoring against the defensive West Indies bowling.
That however seemed to be their plan throughout this series --- see out the first session and then start accelerating. Saha however couldn’t stay longer. A fifty could have given him some boost but Saha’s slow feet cost him his wicket against a Holder delivery that moved in and hit him low on the back leg. It was the West Indies captain’s first wicket in the series.
Amit Mishra’s support helped Rahane get past the 80-run mark but once Chase picked Mishra and Mohammed Shami off successive balls, he made the Indians cautious . Yadav gave Rahane a leg-up with his 14-ball 19. Rahane first heaved Chase straight over extra cover for a six that took him to 95, took a single off Kraigg Brathwaite before uncharacteristically pushing at Chase’s delivery that held its line. Fortunately for Rahane though, the edge squeezed its way past Jermaine Blackwood at first slip and crossed the rope to give him his fifth Test century overseas.