India recovered to 234 for five at stumps on Day One of the third Test against the West Indies, courtesy an unbeaten 108-run stand between Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha.
India, put in to bat, found themselves at a precarious 126 for five before Ashwin (75 not out) and Wriddhiman Saha (46 not out) grinded it out to steady the innings and batted out the entire final session.
India lead the four-match series 1-0, after winning the first Test in Antigua by an innings and 92 runs. The second Test in Jamaica was drawn.
The West Indies bowlers built the pressure on India who managed just 43 runs in 29 overs with the loss of two wickets denting their innings further. The visitors had reached 87 for three in the morning session after being put in to bat. However, the third session was much more productive for the visitors, yielding 104 runs.
Debutant pacer Alzarri Joseph (2-38) and spinner Roston Chase (2-38) took two wickets each for the West Indies.
Earlier, West Indies won the toss and elected to field given the lively pitch.
They made two changes, bringing in Leon Johnson for dropped opener Rajendra Chandrika and then opting for 19-year-old pacer Joseph in place of leg spinner Devendra Bishoo. India made three changes from the Jamaica Test, bringing in Rohit, Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for Cheteshwar Pujara, Amit Mishra and Umesh Yadav, respectively.
Shannon Gabriel and Joseph then started proceedings with the new ball against Shikhar Dhawan (1) and Rahul (50). The former started off with couple loose deliveries that allowed Rahul to get going easily, and was in complete contrast to what was to come later on. Soon enough, the two worked up their pace and their plans bore fruit.
They used the short ball to good effect, particularly Gabriel as he squeezed Dhawan for room down the leg side. The left-handed opener looked to pull one in the third over, and edged to the keeper Shane Dowrich.
Surprisingly then, skipper Virat Kohli (3) came out to bat and was tested immediately with a mix of short and moving deliveries. It was a bold move, but it didn’t work as Kohli edged a rising delivery from the young Joseph to first slip where Darren Bravo completed a regulation catch.
India were in all sorts of trouble then, but Rahul added 58 runs for the third wicket with Rahane who came in at no.4.
The Karnataka opener continued his good run of form, and scored a chanceless first Test half-century. He was comfortable against the short ball attack from Gabriel-Joseph
and then negotiated Miguel Cummins (0-28) and Jason Holder (0-14) easily as well.
He helped bring up the 50-mark for India in the 13th over, and his 50-partnership with Rahane came off 68 balls. Thereafter he reached his fifty off 64 deliveries, as Chase
came on to bowl. But off the very next ball, in the 20th over, fell to the West Indies’ trap, as he hit straight to Kraigg Brathwaite (0-7) at short fine leg.
Rahane had looked uncomfortable against Holder again, but tightened up his game to survive until lunch. Rohit had come out to bat thereafter, and faced a couple testing overs from Gabriel. But he too survived the little phase before the break.
After lunch, Rohit Sharma (9) and Ajinkya Rahane (35) came out to resume their partnership, and were looking to launch a fight back. Rohit lasted only 12 balls after the break, edging Joseph behind on a delivery that swung away just a touch from the off-stump.
The immediate breakthrough put the West Indies in complete command of proceedings as Ashwin came out to bat. The two batsmen took their time thereafter, and didn’t
look in any hurry whatsoever to score runs.
This approach allowed the hosts to work on their plans and execute them without hassle. And the bowlers built up constant pressure and didn’t allow any easy runs to come by. The 100-mark came up for India in the 33rd over, but the first hour after lunch yielded only 35 runs.
Over the course of the second hour’s play, the scoring rate almost ground to a halt as only another 18 runs were added. And that too with the additional loss of a wicket as Chase bowled Rahane in the 50th over, the batsman completely misjudging the flight.