Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation

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July 21, 2023

CMC – A stirring fightback from West Indies was snuffed out when Virat Kohli shared an unbroken, century fifth-wicket stand with Ravendra Jadeja to get India back on track in the second Test on Thursday in Trinidad.

The Caribbean side endured a fruitless toil after tea in sweltering conditions, and Kohli, unbeaten on 87, dropped anchor and left-hander Jadeja, not out on 36, was the perfect foil, carrying the Indians to 288 for four in their first innings at the close on the first day of the 100th Test between the two teams.

Hoping that the Queen’s Park Oval pitch was going to offer more assistance than its counterpart last week at Windsor Park in Dominica, West Indies won the toss and chose to field, but their decision spectacularly backfired when they went wicket-less in the morning session.

The hosts were left hugely disappointed when there was limited help early from the playing surface for their pacers, and India captain Rohit Sharma and fellow opener Yashasvi Jaiswal laid waste to their bowling and cracked half-centuries before lunch to take their side to 112 without loss.

The four wickets taken between lunch and tea, including Sharma for 80 and Jaiswal for 57, brought West Indies back into the historic Test and had India unsteady, if not wobbly on 182 for four at tea before Kohli, in his 500th international, and Jadeja salvaged the day for them with a stand of 106.

No West Indies bowler distinguished himself with more than one wicket, but left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican bowled impressively, extracted a bit of turn and conceded only 55 from his 22 overs, while lanky pace bowling compatriot Jason Holder gave away only 30 in 13 overs.

“I think it was a tough day based on the pitch that was presented to us,” West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel said in a post-play TV interview.

“The guys, apart from the first session, came out and stuck to their task and was patient, and we were able to put some balls in better areas for longer periods and it gave us some success. We will take that as a plus, considering the conditions.”

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite felt so disgusted with the playing surface that he turned to Warrican after 10 overs were completed, and Sharma and Jaiswal indulged themselves to build a firm foundation for their side.

Fast bowler Alzarri Joseph was left to grieve early when Test newcomer Kirk McKenzie failed to hold a high chance at gully from Jaiswal, on four, in the sixth over; and so too, Holder when Jasiwal, on 57, edged the penultimate delivery before lunch to first slip, but Alick Athanaze spilled the chance.

In between, a short ball from long-serving pacer Kemar Roach was dispatched over mid-wicket for six to carry Sharma to his half-century from 74 balls, and Jaiswal reached the landmark from 49 balls when he collected back-to-back fours to the point and cover boundaries off Joseph a few overs later.

West Indies emerged with a greater sense of purpose after lunch, and they were rewarded for their patience and persistence when Holder, belatedly introduced into the attack in the second hour of the morning, made the breakthrough, while compatriots Roach and Warrican, as well as Gabriel struck.

“We expected the ball to bounce a little more,” Gabriel said. “The pitch didn’t have any grass, but it seemed hard, and we expected it to bounce a little bit more, but it just didn’t happen.
“We felt we were all over the shop in the first session, and we went back and assessed during lunch, so we decided to bowl that good, three quarters-of-a-length after lunch and be patient because it was not a pitch that you could try much things on it… so we just tried to grind them down.”

Holder called upon to typically bowl a holding spell immediately after the interval dried up the runs from his end, and he got Jaiswal caught at backward point, driving loosely outside the off-stump, ending an opening stand of 139 with Sharma.

Roach replaced Holder at the northern end and reaped success in his first over when Gill pushed at a delivery outside the off-stump and was caught behind for 10 before Warrican put the icing on the cake three overs later when he bamboozled Sharma, playing defensively forward, and bowled him for 80.

West Indies had India 155 for three, and they got a further boost to morale when India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane was bowled for eight in the final over before tea, playing on a delivery from Gabriel, but Kohli had already started to dig in and Jadeja was his willing partner after the break.

The Caribbean side continued to be diligent, but Kohli and Jadeja were rock solid in defence, ran with vigour between the wickets, and cashed in on anything fractionally loose to restore the balance of power to India when stumps were drawn.

“The new ball is due (on Friday morning), and we don’t need to go searching, but we just have to be patient and put the ball in the good areas for as long as possible and hope for more success on the second day,” Gabriel said.

The Caribbean side made two changes to their line-up from the previous Test with McKenzie and Gabriel replacing Raymon Reifer and ill burly off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall.

McKenzie, 23, is making his Test debut, becoming the 334th player to wear the maroon cap in this format of the game, while the visitors similarly handed a Test debut to pacer Mukesh Kumar, replacing injured all-rounder Shardul Thakur.

India lead the two-Test series 1-0 after they won the first Test by an innings and 141 runs inside three days.

The two Tests are part of the new round of the World Test Championship 2023 to 2025.

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