Port of Spain: Virat Kohli reached close to a memorable hundred in his 500th International game after the West Indies put up a much needed fight to limit India to 288 for four at stumps on day one of the second Test here on Thursday.
The opening duo of Rohit Sharma (80 off 143) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (57 off 74) shared a brisk 139-run stand to provide another perfect launch pad before the West Indies struck four times in the afternoon session to put brakes on India’s scoring rate. Kohli (87 batting off 161) and Ravindra Jadeja (36 batting off 84) played some exquisite strokes in the final session and ensured India collected 106 runs in 33.2 overs without losing a wicket. Overall, 84 overs were bowled on the opening day.
Kohli, who got off the mark with a straight drive after consuming 20 dot balls, will go into day two just 14 runs shy of his first hundred in an overseas Test since December 2018.
Majority of his six boundaries came on the off side including a picture perfect cover drive off a Kemar Roach half-volley in the 57th over.
Jadeja was equally solid and matched Kohli when it came to piercing the field through the cover region.
Kohli, who had to work extremely hard for his 76 on a slow pitch in the series opener, brought up his 30th Test fifty with a boundary off spinner Jomel Warrican in the 67th over.
At the start of his innings, a relentless Roach tested Kohli with the fourth stump line but the star batter was able to see off his probing spell.
In the afternoon session, the West Indies bowled with a plan and purpose to strike four times, leaving India at 182 for four at tea.
The runs came thick and fast in the morning session but dried up in the afternoon with India only managing 61 in 24.4 overs.
The batters to be dismissed were Rohit, Jaiswal, Shubman Gill (10 off 12) and Ajinkya Rahane (8 off 36), who fell at the stroke of tea. The success with the ball was largely because of the discipline showed by the West Indies bowlers, something they lacked in the first session.
Jason Holder, who could have had Jaiswal caught at first slip just before lunch, got rid of the talented southpaw by luring him to an expansive drive. The ball had flown over the gully fielder in the morning on a few occasions, therefore, prompting the hosts to push the fielder back. The ploy worked as Jaiswal mistimed the drive and debutant Kirk McKenzie took a sharp catch.
Next to depart was Gill, who had his second successive failure at his new batting position of number three. The seasoned Roach tested him around the off stump and Gill ended up edging a good length ball back to the wicketkeeper.
Rohit, who looked extremely good in the middle, was bowled off a beauty from Warrican.
The left-arm spinner tossed one up and got it to turn a shade from the off-stump to clip the bails.
Rahane (8 off 36) played on to an angled in ball from Shannon Gabriel and his dismissal advanced the tea break by two balls.
Earlier, Rohit and Jaiswal maintained their sublime form in the Caribbean to take India to 121 for no loss at lunch.
Young Jaiswal and Rohit, who both scored hundreds in India’s dominant win in the opening Test, looked set for another epic partnership. The visitors scored at a run rate of 4.65 in 26 overs.
Jaiswal was dropped at first slip by Alick Athanaze off Holder on the penultimate ball of the session.
The game also marks the 100th Test between the two teams and captains of both India and West Indies were handed a special memento by legend Brian Lara to commemorate the occasion before the start of the game.
The turning pitch in Dominica suited India really well and a more lively track was expected at Queen’s Park Oval but the curator decided not to leave any grass on the surface.
The West Indies pacers could not create enough chances after their captain Kraigg Brathwaite put the opposition in to bat with an intent to make use of the early morning moisture in the pitch.
The pacers chose to use the short ball against the Indian openers early on but the move backfired. Rohit first unleashed his trademark pull off Roach for the first six of the game before Jaiswal pulled Joseph away for another maximum.
The India skipper brought his half-century with a six off Roach in the 19th over. It was a pull shot again from the captain that went all the way.
Jaiswal, at the other end, was quick to slash anything wide and picked up the pace towards the end of the session. He brought his fifty with an on the up drive off Alzarri Joseph.