Shaw, Pant dazzle for India

Shaw, Pant dazzle for India

Two rising players produced exciting cricket while an experienced customer overcame his inner demons as India set themselves up for a healthy lead against the West Indies here on the second day of the second Test on Saturday.

India’s response to the visitors’ total of 311 began on a commanding note. The young Prithvi Shaw (70, 53b, 11x4, 1x6) came down hard at the West Indies bowlers in a knock of supreme confidence. 

After a testing passage, where India lost three wickets, Rishabh Pant (85 n.o., 120b, 10x4, 2x6) and Ajinkya Rahane (75 n.o., 174b, 6x4) stitched an unbroken stand of 146 runs to guide the hosts to 308/4 at stumps.

Pant’s positive approach served India well when he joined hands with Rahane at 162/4, the team still trailing by 149 runs. His aggression, especially against the spinners, took the pressure off Rahane, who was painfully slow early on.

For Rahane, it was a familiar situation but the task wasn’t easy by any means. He not only had to take the team to a position of safety but also had to bat long and make a meaty contribution.

His low confidence wasn't difficult to miss. The West Indies' spin attack of Jomel Warrican (1/76) and Devendra Bishoo was far from hostile but Rahane was extra cautious. Rahane’s second boundary arrived 81 deliveries after his first and that told the story. But it mattered in the end that the 30-year-old, who spent 247 minutes in the middle, didn’t throw it way like he had done many times in the recent past.

Earlier, Umesh Yadav (6/88), continuing his appetite for wickets on a flat track, cleaned up the remaining three West Indies batsmen to finish with a six-wicket haul. 

The West Indies resumed from 295/7 and Roston Chase (189b, 8x4, 1x6), overnight 98, completed his fourth ton. However, Umesh helped India finish the innings in just 28 minutes of the morning session.

Even before the West Indies bowlers could find their rhythm, Shaw was on top of them. Shannon Gabriel was punched of the back foot for four and then cut for a six over third man. He drove well off his pads to Jason Holder (2/45) and raced to fifty in just 39 balls.

On the other end, K L Rahul’s wretched run continued. The Karnataka batsman looked patchy in the middle and managed just four runs. In two minds to either play or leave the ball, the right-hander dragged a Holder delivery on to the stumps.  

Shaw fell early in the second session when he drove left-arm spinner Warrican away from the body to cover. The West Indies, shaken by Shaw’s brisk start, fought back. Cheteshwar Pujara (10) poked an out side off stump ball to depart cheaply. Kohli, solid as ever, breezed to 45 (78b, 5x4) before Holder accounted for his counterpart.

Holder was the visitors’ best bowler. The medium pacer was relentless in wicket-to-wicket bowling. Pacer Shannon Gabriel and Warrican maintained good length to make India work for runs. 

However, the duo was denied by a shoddy fielding effort. Shaw, on 23, was dropped off Warrican at first slip by Shai Hope. Substitute Jahmar Hamilton, who was doing the wicketkeeping duties after Shane Dowrich had injured his knee while collecting a ball, missed a simple catch of Pant when he was on 23.

Had those chances been taken, the story perhaps would have been different for the West Indies, who are down 0-1 in the series.