KINGSTON, Jamaica – India captain Virat Kohli and opener Mayank Agarwal stroked half-centuries but West Indies skipper Jason Holder responded with a terrific display of pace bowling, as the home side shared honours on the opening day of the decisive second Test today.
Sent in at Sabina Park in excellent conditions, India reached the close on 264 for five, with Kohli top-scoring with 76 and Agarwal getting 55.
Well placed on 157 for three at tea, India lost both Ajinkya Rahane (24) and Kohli inside the first hour following the resumption but Hanuma Vihari carved out an unbeaten 42 and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, an unbeaten 27, to deny West Indies any further success in the session in a crucial 62-run, unbroken sixth-wicket partnership.
Low-keyed in the Antigua opening Test which West Indies lost by 318 runs inside four days last week, seamer Holder sprung to life in the humidity of the country’s capital with a haul of three for 39, including the prized wicket of Kohli.
In 20 probing overs, the six-foot, seven-inch Barbadian troubled all India’s batsmen with his bounce and movement and was unlucky not to have had more success.
The morning session, however, belonged to debutant off-spinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall, who took his first Test wicket and held a sharp chance at first slip off Holder, as India lost two wickets before lunch.
Agarwal, in only his fourth Test, put on 32 for the first wicket with KL Rahul (13) to give India a solid start to the encounter.
It was Holder who got the breakthrough in the seventh over of the day when he got one to leave Rahul for Cornwall to snare the catch in the cordon off the resulting edge.
Introduced on the stroke of the first hour, Cornwall then struck in his third over when he had Cheteshwar Pujara (6) caught at point by Shamarh Brooks cutting one that bounced sharply.
On 46 for two, India were steadied by Kohli and Agarwal who posted an enterprising 69 for the third wicket, a partnership which carried the visitors to lunch at 74 for two.
The second session belonged to India as Kohli extended his stand with Agarwal, before putting on a further 49 for the fourth wicket with Rahane.
All told, Kohli faced 163 balls in 3-½ hours and struck 10 fours while Agarwal punched seven boundaries in an innings lasting 127 deliveries and 2-¾ hours.
Unbeaten on 41 at lunch, Agarwal reached his half-century in the eighth over after the resumption with two streaky boundaries off seamer Kemar Roach, the first an inside edge to fine leg and the second and outside edge through gully.
He was given out caught at the wicket on 55 in Roach’s next over but had the decision overturned by DRS. However, he failed to cash in on the reprieve and was dismissed in the very next over, caught at first slip by Cornwall off Holder, trying to cut one too close to him.
Unfazed, Kohli drove speedster Shannon Gabriel exquisitely to the cover boundary in successive overs before raising his 22nd Test half-century, 15 minutes before tea, as he and Rahane took India safely to the break.
West Indies struck in the first over after the interval, however, when Roach got one to straighten and brush Rahane’s edge, and give debutant wicketkeeper Jahmar Hamilton his first Test dismissal.
By then, Holder had his tail up and Kohli had put on 38 for the fifth wicket with Vihari when he was undone by a peach of a leg-cutter from his opposite number and could only nick his defensive push to Hamilton.
Stumbling on 202 for five, India’s recovery was engineered by Vihari who has so far stroked eight fours in an 80-ball knock to be in sight of his third half-century in his sixth Test.
Pant, meanwhile, has faced 64 balls and belted two fours and a six – a clean hit over long on off part-time off-spinner Roston Chase. (CMC)