Match Report : 3rd Test: Day 1: West Indies vs India at Gros Islet, August 9-13, 2016
Brief Scores: INDIA 234 for five (Ravi Ashwin 75 not out, KL Rahul 50, Wriddhiman Saha 46 not out, Roston Chase 2-38, Alzari Joseph 2-38) vs WEST INDIES.
GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC — An unbroken century stand between Ravi Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha extinguished West Indies’ early enthusiasm, as India recovered from a dodgy start to make a strong finish to the opening day of the third Test here Tuesday.
India were teetering on the brink of collapse just before tea at 126 for five but fought back gallantly in the final session to keep West Indies wicket-less and reach 234 for five at the Darren Sammy National Stadium.
At the close, Ashwin was closing in on yet another century against West Indies, unbeaten on 75, while wicketkeeper Saha was on the verge of a third Test half-century on 46 not out.
Together, they have added 108 for the sixth wicket — a stand that shifted the balance of the game after West Indies dominated the first two session after winning the toss and opting to bowl first.
The hosts were galvanised by debutant 19-year-old fast bowler Alzarri Joseph who picked up two for 38 including the prized wicket of captain Virat Kohli for three, while off-spinner Roston Chase also claimed two for 38.
Opener KL Rahul extended his good form from the last Test with exactly 50 while Ajinkya Rahane made a fighting 35.
Following on from their spirited performance in the Sabina Park Test last week, West Indies made a lively start to the day when they reduced India to 19 for two inside the first half-hour.
Speedster Shannon Gabriel removed Shikhar Dhawan in the third over for one with the score on nine, feathering a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.
Three overs later, Joseph grabbed his first Test scalp when he removed Kohli with a quick delivery that rose sharply from back of a length, which the right-hander could only fend to Darren Bravo at first slip.
Rahul and Rahane rebuilt the innings in a 58-run third wicket stand, which saw India through the first hour at 43 for two and nearly to the lunch break.
The eight-handed Rahul faced 65 balls in 1-¾ hours at the crease and counted six fours while Rahane, also right-handed, struck four boundaries in an innings spanning 133 balls and just under 3-½ hours.
With lunch beckoning, Rahul perished in the third over before the interval, caught by Kraigg Brathwaite at a short backward square, attempting to play Chase into the on-side.
On 87 for three at lunch, India found themselves immediately in turmoil on the resumption when Rohit Sharma nicked an out-swinger from Joseph behind, without adding to his lunch-time nine.
Ashwin then combined with the obdurate Rahane, unbeaten on 17 at lunch, to bolster the innings in a 39-run fifth wicket stand to hold up the Windies charge. However, three overs before tea, Rahane perished through an error in judgement, missing a sweep at a dipping full toss from Chase and going bowled off stump.
India limped to tea on 130 for five, with Ashwin unbeaten on 23 and Saha on one, but proceeded to take charge in the final session to deny West Indies any further success.
The right-handed Ashwin survived two chances to strike four fours off 190 deliveries while Saha, dropped on 20 by Leon Johnson at forward short leg off Chase, has faced 122 balls and counted four fours.
Ashwin, who made a hundred in the opening Test in Antigua a fortnight ago, was also put down on 26 by Johnson at short leg off Chase and was given a second life on 35 just 25 minutes later when he was caught at point by Chase off a back-foot no-ball by Gabriel, at 145 for five.
He brushed off both blemishes to post his seventh Test half-century before going on the attack to counter the threat of the second new ball late in the day.