India continued tightening their grip on the West Indies with another day of commanding performance by reducing the visitors to 94/6 at stumps in Rajkot on Friday.
Having put up a mammoth total of 649/9 in the first innings with hundreds from Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and a sparkling 92 from Rishabh Pant after the first day’s dominance, the Indian bowlers made their presence felt by wreaking havoc with the red cherry. The chief destroyer was Mohammed Shami, who bowled six overs for just 11 runs and dismissed both the openers in the process. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav also chipped in with a wicket each to cap off a perfect day for the Indians at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium.
Resuming the day at 364/4, the Indians continued from where they left off as captain Kohli and Pant looked solid, and was never really troubled the by visitors’ bowling.
Kohli resumed with his form in England and stroked his way to a classy 139 of 240 balls which very much summed up why he is the best in the business today if his number one ranking isn’t taken into the equation.
The captain struck 10 fours in his record-breaking knock as he became only second to the legendary Don Bradman in the process. The Australian great had scored 24 Test hundreds in 62 innings and Kohli is at the second spot in that list, having scored the same number of hundreds in 123 innings. He surpassed the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar who had got to that mark in 125 and 128 Test innings respectively.
He put on 133 runs with Pant, who was at his aggressive best as he powered his way to 92 runs off 84 deliveries with eight fours and four huge sixes. But he failed to get his second Test hundred after he sliced a googly off Devendra Bishoo’s bowling, straight to short third man.
If anyone would have thought that this was it with the Indian batting after Kohli too departed with the score at 534/6, they were in for a major surprise in Jadeja, who replicated his form with the bat in domestic cricket with his maiden hundred which further added to the misery of the visitors.
The left-hander hit five fours and as many sixes in the process as India declared at 649/9 – which is their highest total against the West Indies.
If that didn’t spell trouble for the visitors, the Indian bowling surely did. In just the third over Shami went through the defences of stand-in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite for just 2 runs. His opening partner Kieran Powell too felt it tough to handle the pace of the Bengal bowler as he was trapped in front for one run.
But the most memorable dismissal of them all was that of Shimron Hetmyer, who was run out by Jadeja after he taunted him a bit and threw the ball at the stumps being just three yards or so away. The miscommunication between the two batsmen was what drew the attention here as the West Indies were falling like a pack of cards, not showing any resistance at all in front of the Indian bowling.
With a deficit of 555 runs to erase and just four wickets in hand, it would take nothing less than a miracle for the visitors to at least come close to the total.
India, on the other hand, would be mighty pleased with their performance and would look to end this as soon as possible on the third day.
Brief score: West Indies 94/6 (Roston Chase 27*, Keemo Paul 13*; Mohammad Shami 2/11) trail India 649/9 (Virat Kohli 139, Prithvi Shaw 134; Devendra Bishoo 4/217) by 555 runs.