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India take strong lead of 162 after Rahul ton

Though the day belonged to India—bolstered by KL Rahul’s century and a quick knock by Virat Kohli— slow run-rate in the first two sessions gave the West Indies breathing space on Day 2 of the second Test.

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2016 11:06 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Lokesh Rahul’s excellent 158 coupled with Virat Kohli’s quick 44 gave India a 162-run lead on day 2 of the second Test in Kingston.
Lokesh Rahul’s excellent 158 coupled with Virat Kohli’s quick 44 gave India a 162-run lead on day 2 of the second Test in Kingston.(AP)

India were guilty of waiting too long, being too cautious and taking too much time to turn the screws against the West Indies in the first two sessions of the second day before a late surge, orchestrated by Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli, got them a bit of momentum later on Sunday. Starting the day at 126/1, India could only add 232 runs (from 88 overs) to their overnight score for the loss of four wickets.

Barring a few overs, the West Indies didn’t make the ball talk as much as India did on Saturday. The pitch had eased out; almost perfect conditions for Indian batsmen to take charge. But they took two sessions to score nearly as much as they scored off the third session on the first day. The scores of 59, 74 and 99 runs in the three sessions doesn’t exactly justify the potential of one of the best batting sides in the world, that too on a benign pitch with nine wickets in hand against a bowling attack that showed heart but lacked the quality to compliment. They were also a bowler down in the third session when debutant Miguel Cummins limped out with cramps.

Opener KL Rahul showed his worth by scoring his third century in as many countries, but only after he blunted out 159 balls. Cheteshwar Pujara could have made more out of his start. Kohli was typically aggressive, scoring two less than Pujara in just 90 balls. But after the fall of Pujara there was never a time when India had two set batsmen at the crease for a considerable period. New batsmen need time to adjust to the conditions and that slowed down India.

However, the day still belonged to India since they have secured a sizeable lead of 162 runs. But the lead could have easily been at least 200, if not more. In hindsight, a little more proactive batting in the first session or in the one hour after lunch could have given India a better position. Given the West Indies were bowled out for 196 in the first innings, India can still back themselves to bowl out the West Indies in one day. The hosts, on the other hand, would be happy with how they kept the run flow in check for almost two sessions.

The first session, expectedly, was used to see off the ball. Rahul had compiled his half-century quickly on Saturday but he was ready to leave the balls and wait for the right delivery. Pujara did his thing—quietly nudging the balls around and making sure he didn’t give any chance to the West Indies bowlers. It took him 35 balls to get his first runs of the day when he went down the pitch to flick Roston Chase towards leg for a couple. Both boundaries he scored in the morning were off Miguel Cummins, the first was a drive through mid-on while the second was a fierce square cut. There were a few times when Pujara was hassled by the pace of Shannon Gabriel, but most of the time, he looked pretty solid out there.

Rahul too endured a testing first phase in the morning, especially against Gabriel. He induced an edge off the opener’s bat in the first delivery of the 46th over, but that didn’t carry to gully. In the last ball of the same over, suddenly moved away but this time Rahul kept his eyes on the ball till the last second. His first boundary of the day was against Chase—a sweep past deep square-leg—but it was clear that Rahul had to get his eye in once more and that took time. Rahul wasn’t ready to take any chance on a pitch that R Ashwin had described as a difficult one to bat on. Most of his big shots came off Chase, including the six over wide mid-on that gave him his third Test century.

The morning session was only the second wicket-less session of the series. But the stage was set for the middle-order to push India to a position where they can decide when to pull the plug on the West Indies. But between Pujara’s run out should and tea, India scored just 51 runs in 18.4 overs. Things changed, however, in the final session. Rahul opened the third session with a splendid cover drive for boundary while Kohli faced hardly any resistance from the West Indies bowling once again.

After the new ball was taken, in the 92nd over, the West Indies came around. Within four overs, Rahul was out, edging a ball down the leg-side. Then, in the 104th over, Kohli got out tamely. Having failed to nudge Chase past Rajendra Chandrika at short-leg, Kohli tried the same shot again, but this time Chandrika held on to a sharp catch. Ashwin failed to repeat his first Test feat but Rahane held out with Wriddhiman Saha to take India’s lead past the 150-run mark.