IMAGES from Day 2 of the second Test between India and the West Indies at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, on Friday.
Virat Kohli equalled Sir Don Bradman's record of 29 hundreds in India's commendable first innings score of 438, but their bowlers found it tough as the West Indies ended Day 2 in the second Test on 86 for 1, at Port of Spain, on Friday.
Kohli, who missed out on a hundred in the previous Test, made amends with a polished 121 off 206 balls, his 76th hundred in 500 international appearances.
He also added 159 runs for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (61 off 152 balls), who registered his 19th half-century in Tests.
Ravichandran Ashwin (56 off 78 balls), with four hundreds against the same opposition, did look comfortable against both spin and pace as he played some adventurous ramp shots off Kemar Roach to help himself to a half-century and take India closer to 450.
In reply, the West Indies openers displayed a solid defensive game before Jadeja (1/12 in 10 overs) prevailed after playing with young Tagenarine Chanderpaul's (33 off 95 balls) patience.
The southpaw tried to loft a delivery that landed on the rough and the thick outside edge was taken at point by his spin bowling partner Ashwin.
However, the pitch, which is getting slower with the passage of time, did not have much for the bowlers as the new Dukes ball was changed at least thrice in the first 20 overs on the insistence of the Indian team which found it going out of shape.
The change of ball did not bring about any change in fortunes for the Indian bowlers as the dependable West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (37 batting, 128 balls) and stodgy Chanderpaul survived nearly 35 out of 41 overs without much difficulty.
They mostly defended, scoring a few boundaries in between. Brathwaite had debutant Kirk Mckenzie (14 batting, 25 balls) for company.
There was no carry off the surface and the inexperienced pace attack of Mohammed Siraj (0/23 in 7 overs), Jaydev Unadkat (0/12 in 6 overs) and Mukesh Kumar (0/10 in 4 overs) were unable to produce anything 'out of the box' on a literally dead track.
Ashwin (0/29 in 14 overs) and Jadeja were certainly better bets for providing breakthroughs but the West Indies opening duo gave a much better account of themselves unlike the Dominica Test. There was no turn on offer and skipper Rohit Sharma would expect that the pitch would play some tricks to aid his slow bowlers on the third day.
Ravichandran Ashwin (56 off 78 balls), with four hundreds against the same opposition, did look comfortable against both spin and pace as he played some adventurous ramp shots off Roach to help himself to a half-century.
Ishan Kishan (25) would be cursing himself for not making full use of decent batting conditions and a platform set by top-order batters.
The first session of the second day undoubtedly belonged to Kohli, who was hardly troubled by any of the West Indies pacers, having taken 77 runs in singles, doubles and triples apart from the 11 boundaries in all.
Starting the day at 87, he reached his century in the first half an hour while dispatching a Roach delivery wide of point with a stretched square drive. The wide grin while raising his bat and then taking a bow said it all.
The satisfaction of scoring his first overseas Test hundred in half a decade was palpable, having last scored a ton on foreign soil in Perth in 2018.
The Queens Park Oval track is certainly way better for strokeplay compared to first Test venue of Windsor Park in Dominica. One could hit through the line even though there were deliveries that were gripping off the surface and some that stopped and came onto the bat.
Kohli's greatness lay in his game awareness as the cornerstone of his innings was 45 singles and 13 doubles in energy sapping conditions.
He would be pleased because as many as nine of his 11 boundaries were hit on the off-side with the signature cover drive coming out of his closet time and again.
To his relief, the absence of off-break Rahkeem Cornwall did make things a bit easier as left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican (3/89 in 39 overs), despite his restrictive lines, did not get a lot of purchase off the surface.
Most of the deliveries come in with the angle and it was easier to just tickle it off his hips for singles and doubles.
Kohli found an able ally in Jadeja, who got another half-century and reaffirmed his status as a batting all-rounder in overseas conditions.