It took a great effort by Roston Chase to hand West Indies an unlikely draw against India at the Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica. West Indies’ top four managed only 44 runs on day four. The next four, though, scored 338 runs on day five, led by Chase’s century.
That however wasn’t the only takeaways from the second Test. There were other positives as well as negatives for both sides. Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul’s centuries, rain interruptions, Chase’s effort with the ball and two contrasting batting performances from the West Indies were there to see for.
Roston Chase became the third West Indian to score a hundred and pick up a five-wicket haul in the same match, but more importantly, shepherded one of West Indies’ most miraculous escapes in recent memory.
With six wickets to get in three sessions, India started favourites to wind things up in a session or two at max. But at the other end, standing between India and their plans was Chase. West Indies, from a point where they were trailing by 256 runs, dug deep, resisted anything and everything India threw at them, lost only two wickets, took the lead and denied India a 2-0 lead in the series. For the first time since 1998, Jamaica has produced a drawn game, and it needed a special innings indeed – Chase’s 136 in this case – to change that trivia.
India bowled 88.1 overs on Day 5. They conceded 340 runs and could get only two wickets. For the first time in nine days, their opposition was willing to give, well, opposition. Kohli began to chirp at Chase to see if he could be unruffled. Things were getting out of hand. More accurately, West Indies were not giving anything away under the the kind of pressure where giving away an inch was as good as a mile. Chase and Dowrich raised the team’s first hundred partnership of the series at the rate of 3.77 runs per over. Chase and Blackwood had added 93 runs at 5.26 an over. This was not backs-to-the-wall batting. This was special.
Experts say batsmen need to switch on and switch off. But it was difficult to say if Chase ever switched off. The smallest of smiles broke through when he secured his century; it was only his third in first-class cricket and this was only his 31st first-class match. He was batting like a Seasoned Campaigner. India tried to bounce Chase, he pulled them away. India used reverse swing, he kept them out shortening his backlift. India tried to spin him out, but his open stance showed him exactly what was coming at him. On 99, he flicked a ball on his pads right through the man at midwicket, completed the single and celebrated his first Test hundred in his second Test match by crossing his hands in the shape of an X over his head. His coach and team-mates were clapping. Sir Viv Richards was up on his feet screaming “Roston!”.
From the other end, Jamaica’s own Jermaine Blackwood smashed 63 off 54 balls and the man who replaced him at the crease, Shane Dowrich, applied himself beautifully. He fell 26 short of what might have been a maiden Test hundred when umpire Ian Gould adjudged him lbw to Amit Mishra not spotting an inside edge.
Chase defied India when they had secured a lead of 304 runs, and then taken four wickets in only 15.5 overs on a rain-hit fourth day. With 98.1 overs on the final day, they were supposed to get back-to-back Test victories in a series away from home. Something that has not happened in long time.
The bowlers did try. Mohammed Shami made the old and the new ball swing.He looked threatning in early part of the day. Ishant Sharma kept squaring batsmen up. Ashwin couldn’t have one of his days. The pitch was slow and had cracks, but not like they will tense the batsman. Umesh Yadav and Mishra were disappointing.
Positives for India
For KL Rahul, there is no such thing as in between. Either he doesn’t score, or gets a century as Kohli said. Ahead of the start of the Jamaica Test, Indian captain Virat Kohli had backed Rahul comprehensively, saying that he is capable of playing the long innings. Those were pretty confident words, considering how Rahul continued to floor the West Indies bowling attack en route a third Test century. His career-best 158 propelled India into the lead after they had bowled West Indies out for 196 in the first innings.India were once again strengthened by their top-order. Rahul continued his trend of going bust or going big.He reached his third Test match century with a six and his progression from 100 to 150 despite being affected by cramps stood out. All his three centuries have come in when he’s replaced either Shikhar Dhawan or Murali Vijay, and the way he is progressing, it will get difficult to keep him out of the 11.
After Virat Kohli and R Ashwin in Antigua, and Rahul here in Jamaica, it was Rahane’s turn on to knock the stuffing out of the West Indian attack. The only thing to have possibly stopped India from thrusting into a position of further domination was rain, but Rahane frustrated them further with a seventh century on the third day. Of all his centuries, this too was special in its way. The bowling wasn’t the most intimidating, but with a need to score quick runs, Rahane held one end strong even when West Indies finally had a bowler to show something in Roston Chase. Rahane now has centuries in New Zealand, England, Australia, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Ravi Ashwin took a Five for in first innings and continued his good form.
Pujara too looked good. Nothing that was outside the off was attempted at by the Saurashtra batsman. The more the bowlers sprayed outside off, the better he left, though he never looked unsettled – both his boundaries were well-timed. His innings of 46 off 159 balls was one of his most forbearing ones in recent memory. It took him over an hour to score his first run of the day and 43 balls to get his first boundary. Whether Pujara being a little overcautious is something Indian can afford remains to be seen.
Now with First test won, Second ending in a draw and West Indies looking to show some fight, an interest is generated to see what we all can see for the next two matches. Will India win the series in next match or West Indies might shock the Visitors ?