After Virat Kohli and R Ashwin in Antigua, and KL Rahul here in Jamaica, it was Ajinkya Rahane’s turn on Monday to knock the stuffing out of the West Indian attack. On a day where the only thing to have possibly stopped India from thrusting into a position of further domination was rain, Rahane frustrated them further with a seventh century. Of all his centuries, this too was special in its way. The bowling isn’t the most intimidating, but with a need to score quick runs, Rahane held one end strong even when West Indies finally had a bowler to show something.
Playing his second Test and going wicketless in the second, Roston Chase picked up 5 for 121, the last of which was followed by India’s declaration on 500/9; giving West Indies a stiff target of wiping put a deficit of 304 runs. Stiff, because West Indies’ highest score in this series so far has been 243, and with over four sessions to go in the Test even with a tropical storm on forecast for Day 4, the hosts had to survive four sessions.
Though some good news came their way when abrupt showers cut short the action on Day 3 without a single ball of West Indies’ second innings bowled. It started with a drizzle, then stopped, then got heavy for a while, again drizzled before leaving puddles of water on the covers and the outfield wet, resulting in a loss of about 40 overs. Play is scheduled to start half an hour early on Tuesday with an aim of having 98 overs bowled. But if the weather prediction is anything to go by, who knows how many can be got in.
India started slowly again, a brief spell of shower midway through the second session ate up 30 minutes. One would have wondered whether that had any effect on Rahane and India’s approach post lunch. Chase had India wobbling when Rahane was 15 short of the feat. He dismissed Amit Mishra and Mohammed Shami back-to-back, and it gave Rahane the reason to go for runs.
He moved into the 90s with a six over deep extra cover. Able to get the single off the final delivery of the over and keep strike, he nicked one wide of first slip to register his third century in four innings. As India inched towards a lead of 300, he and Umesh Yadav joined the party. Yadav cracked a few lusty blows while Rahane brought up India’s 500 clearing the long-on fence by quite some distance. A second spell of rain was on the horizon and before it could interrupt the proceedings again, Kohli waved to his batsmen from the dressing room.
Contrary to the final session the previous day, Rahane was a lot more patient. The other overnight batsman Wriddhiman Saha, after seeing off the first hour, launched Devendra Bishoo for six. With India having gone past 400, it was the time for Rahane and Saha to pick up pace. Another wicketless session looked to be the prime outcome before Jason Holder had Saha leg before for 47 for his first wicket of the series.
Usually untroubled by spin, here was an instance where Rahane was kept quiet by Bishoo, who had settled into a groove and was generating significant turn. He was beaten five times in an over by Holder, followed by successive leg-before shouts. Perhaps aware that run scoring was the need of the hour, Rahane began taking slight risks. Walking across to deliveries angling in, he took quick singles with Mishra, who didn’t shy away from having a bit of fun himself. As West Indian bowlers’ shoulders dropped, Mishra attempted a reverse-sweep to go with a six off Bishoo.
It was another day of frustration and agitation for the West Indian bowlers, Chase being the exception. He pitched his deliveries up, inviting the drive from the right-handers against the turn. The one to Mishra was well-executed. The batsman had been playing ambitious shots outside off. This one pitched in the middle and spun sharply to tickle Mishra’ bat, glove and was taken by Rajendra Chandrika at short-leg. Next ball, Shami played inside the line and had his off-stump rattled.
Source: Times of India