Pant, Rahane century stand blunts Windies

The unbeaten century stand between Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant gave India advantage at the end of second day's play.

The unbeaten century-run stand gave India control at the end of second day's play.   -  AP

First, build a partnership. Then another. Then take the honours. India followed the script to the letter on a day when the scales tilted in Windies' favour, although briefly.

The host finished comfortably at 308 for four, three short of Windies' first innings total of 311, stealing the advantage after a third session which saw Ajinkya Rahane (75*, 174b,  6x4) and Rishabh Pant (85*, 120b, 10x4, 2x6) bring up their respective fifties.

 

If Prithvi Shaw's blitzkrieg was the highlight of the day's first session, the post-lunch session belonged to the Windies, which patiently chipped away at the wickets to thwart the host from running away with the contest. 

The spinners Devendra Bishoo (0 for 72), J. Warrican (1 for 76) and Roston Chase (0 for 22) bowled a tight line even as the seamers, Shannon Gabriel (1 for 73) — in particular— leaked runs by bowling wide and overcompensating by straying on the pads.

Earlier, resuming overnight on 295 for seven, Windies was all out in the space of 40 balls for the addition of just 16 runs. 

Chase brought up his fourth Test hundred — his second against India and first away from home  — with a single off Kuldeep before Umesh Yadav cleaned him up, with a peach of a delivery that jagged back from a fuller length, for his second five-wicket haul in Tests and first at home. Yadav finished with career-best figures of 6 for 88.

Shaw dominates, again

That brought Prithvi Shaw (70, 53b,11x4, 1x6) and K.L. Rahul (4, 25b) to the crease, and they combined to flay the Windies bowlers. Shaw was the main aggressor, striking the ball with precise timing and placement, an elegant cover drive off Jason Holder (2 for 45) at the start of the fourth over stood out.

He, however, got a reprieve on 45 when Shai Hope at slip put down a tough chance off left-arm spinner Warrican. 

The diminutive right-hander drove and flicked his way to a quickfire 50 off just 39 balls, slamming eight fours and a six en route to his second successive half-century of the series.

India, buoyed by 15 extras (until then), had raced to 61 in 8.4 overs when Rahul — out for a first over duck in Rajkot — dragged a length ball off Holder back onto the stumps.

After lunch,  Shaw continued to lay into the attack, collecting 14 off one Gabriel over — 4 2 0 0 4 1 — before playing one drive too many, and offering a simple catch to Hetmyer at extra cover. He walked back to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Windies flatters to deceive

Cheteshwar Pujara followed suit, getting a thin edge to the wicketkeeper off Gabriel. Virat Kohli and Rahane steadied the ship with a 60-run stand for the fourth wicket.

On a flat and hard Rajiv Gandhi stadium pitch with little turn on offer, Kohli took on Bishoo, scoring three boundaries off him.

Just when the duo threatened to eat away at the deficit, Holder trapped Kohli in front with one that came back in from outside off. The batsman reviewed but replays showed the ball clipping the leg-stump.

 

Rahane dropped anchor and in Pant's company, stitched an unbeaten fifth-wicket 146-run stand to see out the day without further damage. The flamboyant Pant gave impetus to the innings with aggressive strokeplay, two back-to-back sixes over long-on off Warrican being the highlight. They were also helped by some sloppy work in the field by the visitor.