India pin West Indies to the mat

India pin West Indies to the mat

The effect of the sweltering conditions was evident in the dead shoulders of the West Indies’ players. India’s authoritative performance only made life more difficult for the visitors on the second day of the first Test here on Friday.

Two contrasting centuries – Virat Kohli’s 139 (339m, 230b, 10x4) and Jadeja’s unbeaten 100 (151m, 132b, 5x4, 5x6) – lit up the first two sessions here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium. Controlled as he always is, the Indian captain notched up his 24th ton while Jadeja’s maiden century, an entertaining and risk-filled one, fittingly came in front of his home crowd.

Rishabh Pant (92, 84b, 8x4, 4x6) fell just short of his second successive Test ton but the three batsmen’s onslaught put India in a commanding position. Resuming from 364/4, Kohli’s men declared their innings closed at 649/9 at the stroke of tea.

West Indies’ response to the mammoth total once again exposed their limitations in Test cricket. Mohammed Shami (2/11) wrecked their hopes of a good start by sending back the openers. With the twin blow, West Indies lost the plot early in their reply. 

Besides the bizarre run out of Shimron Hetmyer, in which he found himself at the same end as Sunil Ambris, Shane Dowrich showed needless urgency and fell attempting a big shot off Kuldeep Yadav. At stumps, West Indies were in deep trouble at 94/6, trailing the hosts by 555 runs.  

In a repeat of Thursday morning's events, an Indian batsman broke many a record in the first session. After Prithvi Shaw’s special effort, it was Kohli’s time to re-write numbers. The skipper became the second fastest to reach 24th centuries after the Australian legend Donald Bradman. He surpassed 1000 international runs in a year for the third consecutive time, the only Indian to do so.

Kohli’s class was on display right from the second over of the day with the silken cover drive off Shannon Gabriel. The West Indies pacer made the mistake of bowling on the pads and Kohli’s beautiful wrist work saw him find the boundaries easily. It was a typical Kohli innings that had brilliant running between the wickets.

Kohli’s mastery ended when he reached for a ball way outside off but could only manage to hit it straight to mid off. In what has been a tough learning experience, Kohli’s wicket was a small moment of joy for debutant pacer Sherman Lewis.

Pant, after a cautious approach till his half-century, couldn’t resist his temptations. He took on the spinners, carting Devendra Bishoo and Roston Chase to the stands. But Pant played one shot too many. The left-hander, attempting another big hit, edged a googly off Bishoo to point and walked back livid with himself.

Jadeja, however, enthralled the decent turnout. Showing no hurry in the first half of his innings, Jadeja went for the kill when he began to run out of partners. Declaration loomed but Jadeja was well on course of his mission. He repeatedly came down the track to Bishoo and Chase and slammed sixes over mid-on. The Saurashtra batsmen made the most of the uninspired bowling of the spin duo.

Umesh Yadav (22) and Mohammed Shami gave Jadeja hope of his maiden ton by hanging around. When he finally touched the three-figure mark, Jadeja’s arms went up in the air and he followed it up with his trademark sword-dance celebration.