Opener Lokesh Rahul hit a career-best 158 on day 2 of the second test match between India and West Indies in Kingston,Jamaica on Sunday, taking India to a comfortable 358 for 5.
At stumps, India had consolidated their lead to a sizeable 162 runs despite only 232 runs being scored in the 88 overs bowled in the day as the visitors looked to grind the home team with an aim of outbatting them.
Ajinkya Rahane looked confident during his unbeaten knock of 42 in company of Wriddhiman Saha (17 batting). With three days of play left, India has enough time to register another facile win over a below-par Test outfit.
Rahul certainly was the hero of the day as he scored his third Test century on foreign soil with the help of 15 boundaries and three huge sixes—the first of which enabled him to complete a coveted ton. It was a compact innings in which he played 303 balls.
He had a partnership of 121 runs for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a dogged 46 off 159 balls with four boundaries. Rahul also had a 69 run stand with skipper Virat Kohli, who scored 44 off 90 balls. Kohli’s innings had four boundaries and a six.
By the time, Rahul was adjuedged caught behind down leg-side off Shanon Gabriel (1/50), he had put India in driver’s seat.
Kohli, who has been in sublime form was dismissed just when he was looking to take on the spinners having hit a six and couple of fours off Devendra Bishoo’s (1/79) bowling.
It was spinner Roston Chase (2/91), who bowled an off-break which Kohli tried to guide only to offer a simple catch to Rajendra Chandrika at forward short leg.Ravichandran Ashwin (3) was adjudged leg-before off a Bishoo delivery that hit the toe.
Rahane and Saha negotiated the remaining 12.5 overs adding 31 runs with minimum fuss.
Earlier, Rahul notched up his third overseas Test century and helped India lead by 63 runs at tea.
Along with Pujara, he looked to make good on the hard work done in the morning session. The West Indies were looking listless as ever and this was a good time to get some quick runs under the belt.
The only difference from the Antigua Test was perhaps that West Indies weren’t allowing easy scoring, and had tightened up.
The 200-mark for India came up in the 70th over, and the duo celebrated their 100-run stand for the 2nd wicket off 283 balls.
Even as the batsmen looked for runs, they had to take some risks, and in doing so Pujara was run-out after a direct throw from square leg found him short of the crease.
It was a long stay at the crease, which didn’t even result in a half-century, an obvious source of disappointment as the batsman trudged off slowly.
Rahul suffered cramps thereafter, but kept going as Kohli joined him. The West Indies’ decision to delay the new ball helped him settle down, and he was beaten only once in the first 20 deliveries that he had faced.
Kraigg Brathwaite (0-26) was put to bowl, much to everyone’s surprise, and soon the runs began flowing again as India went past the 250-mark in the 90th over, as the two batsmen put up 50 runs for the 3rd wicket off 106 balls. Just before tea, Rahul went past the 150-mark for the first time in his Test career.
In the morning, Rahul and Pujara had played out a slow morning session, as India were trailing the hosts by just 11 runs at lunch.
Starting at the overnight score of 126/1, the two batsmen looked to play for time, as there was still something in the pitch for the bowlers.
However they didn’t have any help from the weather, as it was bright and sunny when play began, rendering this a good day to bat.
Gabriel, in particular, tested both Rahul and Pujara, thrice inducing edges as they fell short of the waiting cordon. On three other occasions, he beat the batsmen with his pace and bounce.
Cummins too beat the batsmen with his line and length, getting a couple to rise awkwardly, but the edges didn’t come or didn’t carry to the fielders as the batsmen looked to play with soft hands.
It obviously affected the run-rate, as only 22 runs came in the first hour of play, with Pujara taking 35 deliveries to get off his overnight score of 18 not out. The 150-mark came up in the 52nd over and the duo brought up their 50-run partnership off 141 deliveries.
Soon enough, after being patient through the morning, Rahul hit out in the 56th over and deposited Chase for a six over long-on, and brought up his hundred off 182 balls. His previous two hundreds were scored in 2015, coming against Australia (Sydney) and Sri Lanka (Colombo).
In doing so, he notched up the highest score for an Indian opener playing his very first innings in the West Indies, beating Ajay Jadeja’s 97 (1996), Shikhar Dhawan’s 84 (2016) and Sunil Gavaskar’s 65 (1971).
At the other end, Pujara struck two boundaries to break the shackles and finally got his strike-rate going, as India went into the lunch break in consummate control of this match.
Jason Holder (0-49) was the other bowler tried.