KINGSTON, Jamaica – Roston Chase hit a monumental century as the West Indies fought to a draw in the second Test against India at Sabina Park today.
In only his second Test, Chase, 24, batted the entire day as West Indies, starting the day on 48 for 4, reached 388 for 6 after following on with a first innings deficit of 304. Chase finished unbeaten on 137 while captain Jason Holder, 64, was with him when Indian captain Virat Kohli and the West Indies skipper agreed late in the day to call off the game with no result likely.
West Indies lost only two wickets on the day with Chase batting throughout the day for almost six hours, facing 269 balls and striking 15 fours and one six.
His outstanding feat made him the first West Indian since Sir Garfield Sobers in 1966 against England at Leeds, to score a century and take a five-wicket haul in the same Test.
The Barbadian middle-order batsman got excellent support from Jermaine Blackwood who scored 63 in a partnership of 93; Shane Dowrich who made 74 in a partnership of 144; and an unbeaten partnership of 103 with Holder.
Chase looked correct when he defended, graceful when he attacked and bloody determined all through.
The first 25 balls this morning cost 40 runs. The fast bowlers were hit through the line and over the top. The spinners were hit against the turn. Chase had finally made it a contest.
India tried to bounce him, he pulled them away. India used reverse swing, he kept them out shortening his backlift. India tried to spin him out, but his open stance showed him exactly what was coming at him. On 99, he flicked a ball on his pads right through the man at midwicket, completed the single and celebrated his achievement by crossing his hands in the shape of an X over his head. His coach and team-mates were clapping with gusto. Sir Viv Richards was up on his feet screaming “Roston!”
From the other end, Jamaica’s own Blackwood smashed 63 off 54 balls and the man who replaced him at the crease, Dowrich, applied himself beautifully. He fell 26 short of what might have been a maiden Test hundred when umpire Ian Gould adjudged him lbw to Amit Mishra not spotting an inside edge.
This was only the third time over the last 12 Tests that a Kingston crowd got to watch cricket on the fifth day and the first drawn Test at Sabina since 1998.
India bowled 88.1 overs. They conceded 340 runs and could get only two wickets. For the first time in nine days, their opposition was willing to give, well, opposition. Kohli began to chirp at Chase to see if he could be unruffled. Mishra fielded a ball that was pushed back at him and flung it back at the batsman in frustration. Things were getting out of hand. More accurately, West Indies were not giving anything away under the kind of pressure where giving away an inch was as good as a mile. Chase and Dowrich raised the team’s first hundred partnership of the series at the rate of 3.77 runs per over. Chase and Blackwood had added 93 runs at 5.26 an over. This was not backs-to-the-wall batting. This was special.
Those in the know say batsmen need to switch on and switch off. But it was difficult to say if Chase ever switched off. The smallest of smiles broke through when he secured his century; it was only his third in first-class cricket and this was only his 31st first-class match. He was batting like he had a 100 of each.
Chase defied India when they had secured a lead of 304 runs, and then taken four wickets in only 15.5 overs on a rain-hit fourth day. With 98.1 overs on the final day, they were supposed to get back-to-back Test victories in a series away from home. Something that has not happened since 2005, against Zimbabwe. Dilute the equation to the top-eight teams, and you end up at 1986, against England.
The bowlers did try. Mohammed Shami made the old and the new ball swing. Ishant Sharma kept squaring batsmen up. Ashwin couldn’t have one of his days – 30-4-114-1. Umesh Yadav and Mishra were disappointing, a combined 37-8-134-2.
West Indies saw every ball that came down, inspected them carefully and then put them in their place. As good as the strokes themselves was the batsmen’s belief they could measure up.
Blackwood showed it when he lifted Shami over his head for a six. When he leapt back, stood tall and hit Ashwin despite the extra bounce to the cover boundary. He became the first West Indian since Shivnarine Chanderpaul in 2014 to hit two half-centuries in the same match.
Dowrich showed it when he lofted Ashwin over the long-on fence. When he used Umesh Yadav’s reverse swing to his advantage and flicked through midwicket and when he topped that by pulling the next ball to the boundary.
Holder showed it when he blunted a brutal short ball from Shami, dropping his wrists but keeping his eyes on it to make sure he could control where it fell. He got to his fifty with a six against Ashwin. It was only the first time in West Indies’ history that their Numbers 5 through 8 had scored 50 or more in the same innings. That’s so rare it has only happened five times in all of Test history.
The man who inspired it all walked away unbeaten after an entire day’s play.