Ashwin, Rahul rattles West Indies

Match Report: 2nd Test: West Indies vs India at Kingston, July 30-Aug 3, 2016

Match Report : 2nd Test: Day 1: West Indies vs India

Brief Scores : India 126 for 1 (Rahul 75*) trail West Indies 196 (Blackwood 62, Ashwin 5-52) by 70 runs

The series was crying out for a good performance from the West Indies. They were thoroughly outplayed in Antigua, and needed a solid start at Jamaica to show they were no pushovers.

On a pitch that had a bit of juice for the bowlers, and boasting of three raw and quick pacers in their squad, the hosts were well placed to make their fightback.

When they won the toss early on Saturday (July 30), it seemed a more even contest would unfold. Jason Holder, surprisingly, opted to bat first and two sessions later, his side was bowled out for 196. R Ashwin was the destroyer in chief, picking up his 18th five-wicket haul. With the bat, India continued their dominance and ended the day at a commanding 126/1.

Having opted to bat first, West Indies suffered a terrible collapse to be struggling at seven for three. Two Jamaicans, however, stemmed the rot with a fine partnership that saw everything from dogged defence to massive sixes. Jermaine Blackwood was the main architect of the resurrection, slamming a quick-fire half century to lift his side out of trouble, while Marlon Samuels overcame a nervy start, taking 30 balls to open his account, and stood firm at the other end.

The opening session was dominated by the Indian bowlers, and sight-screen issues that stopped play as many as three times during the first 20 minutes. Ishant Sharma found the right line and length on a pitch that offered the bowlers some help, while Mohammad Shami pegged away at the other end.

Ishant eventually surprised Kraigg Brathwaite with a short delivery, and the batsman gloved the ball to Cheteshwar Pujara at short-leg. Darren Bravo was undone by a superb delivery first up – a good length delivery that caught the left-hander in two minds. His half prod resulted in a thick edge, and Virat Kohli pounced a superb catch diving to his right.

Two became three soon after as Rajendra Chandrika edged Mohammad Shami to KL Rahul at third slip.

Virat Kohli continued with the opening bowlers for the first hour, and the ploy backfired as Blackwood slammed Ishant Sharma for two fours and a six just before the first drinks break. Blackwood got to his fifty not long after, taking full advantage of a pitched up Amit Mishra delivery and slamming it over the ropes. It was a timely knock for the right-hander, who bagged a pair in the previous Test, and was favourite for the drop prior to the game.

He could not, however, convert his start to a big knock and was out LBW to Ashwin on the stroke of Lunch.

In the second session, Ashwin came into his own, picking up four wickets and completing another five-wicket haul. There was stop-start beginning to this session with rain making an appearance. Soon after play resumed, India got the danger-man Marlon Samuels out for 37. One ball prior to the dismissal, the right-hander had slammed Ashwin over the head for six. But the off-spinner tossed the next ball up further, inviting Samuels to do an encore. Samuels took the bait, but only managed to inside-edge the ball to Rahul at forward short leg.

Shane Dowrich fell soon after, becoming Ashwin’s third victim, feathering an edge through to the keeper. Shami ended Roston Chase’s vigil by getting the right-hander to edge through to first slip.

Ashwin went on to pick up his second five-wicket haul in as many innings as he had Devendra Bishoo and Jason Holder out in quick succession. While Bishoo perished to a top-edge while trying the sweep, Holder was out in similar fashion to Samuels.

Shannon Gabriel and Miguel Cummins added some entertainment towards the end with a quick-fire, slog-studded 38-run stand before Mishra got Gabriel out caught for 15.

In reply, India got off to a solid start. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan got the team off to the perfect start by putting on a 50-run stand for the first wicket.

Rahul got things underway with a neat straight drive off Gabriel, but found himself in a spot when the bowler pitched it short. Miguel Cummins from the other end looked sharp, too, as West Indies pressed for an early wicket.

The opening pair saw off the initial burst safely and started to impose themselves on the bowlers. Rahul was the more assertive of the duo, scoring boundaries consistently. Dhawan was more circumspect but hardly missed out on any scoring opportunity. The pair was also very good with their running between the wickets, dropping the ball into empty spaces and haring across to get off strike.

Rahul was offered a reprieve on 46 when Darren Bravo dropped a chance at mid-wicket off Roston Chase. He brought up his fifty in the next over, slamming Bishoo to the leg side for four.

With the West Indies spinners bowling, Rahul and Dhawan looked to attack them. The ploy backfired as Dhawan was out caught off Chase for 27.

Rahul and Pujara saw off the remaining overs with an unbeaten 39-run stand as India ended the day at 125/1.

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