India gave themselves the best chance to win the second Test against the West Indies with an ultra-aggressive batting approach after lead pacer Mohammed Siraj produced career-best figures on another rain-hit day in Port of Spain. Siraj’s five-wicket haul in the morning session allowed India to bowl out the West Indies for 255 in their first innings after the hosts started day four at 229 for five. Having gained a massive 183-run first innings lead, India went for an all-out attack in the second innings to smash 181 for two in 24 overs before declaring 35 minutes after the tea break to set the home team a 365-run target.
India raced to 100 runs in 12.2 overs, the fastest team hundred in Test cricket history.
At stumps on day four, West Indies were 76 for 2 in 32 overs with R Ashwin removing Kraigg Brathwaite (28) and Kirk McKenzie (0). The hosts need another 289 runs on the final day for an improbable win.
Tagnarine Chanderpaul and Jermaine Blackwood were batting on 24 and 20 respectively at close of play.
The day saw multiple rain stoppages and only three overs could be bowled in the afternoon session. Rain is expected on day five as well and the unpredictable weather played a role in India’s ultra attacking mindset with skipper Rohit Sharma (57 off 44) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (38 off 30) going hammer and tongs from ball one.
Ishan Kishan also got into the act with an unbeaten 52 off 34 balls in his second Test and shared an unconquered 79-run stand with Shubman Gill (29 off 37).
Coming ahead of Virat Kohli at number four considering the stage of the game, Kishan made the opportunity count with a power packed effort comprising four boundaries and a couple of sixes.
Kishan clobbered Kemar Roach for a couple of sixes, one over extra and the other was a one handed hit over the bowler’s head, reminding one of the injured Rishabh Pant. The second six brought his maiden half-century and Rohit expectedly called both Kishan and Gill back into the dressing room.
Rohit himself was in devastating touch in the morning session as he struck his fastest fifty, off 35 balls, in Test cricket. Rohit and Jaiswal batted on T20 mode after Siraj cleaned up the West Indies lower-order in the first hour of play.
The first over of India’s innings went for 11 runs as Jaiswal stepped out to dispatch Kemar Roach over cover for a six before flicking him for a boundary. Rohit, who smashed three sixes and five fours in his entertaining effort, nonchalantly flicked Roach for his first maximum. It was all timing as the ball sailed over wide long-on.
The India skipper, who was dropped twice during his whirlwind knock, was finally caught at fine leg off Shannon Gabriel towards the end of the morning session.
With the ball, it was all about Siraj as he secured a career-best five-wicket haul with a sizzling spell and ended with figures of five for 60 in 23.4 overs.
The hosts, who resumed the day at 229 for five, lost five wickets for 26 runs to concede a huge advantage to India.
Siraj, who is the leader of India’s pace attack in the Caribbean in the absence of Mohammed Shami and injured Jasrpit Bumrah, has embraced the responsibility.
The West Indies batters found him unplayable as the 29-year-old, like he often does, used the scrambled seam to perfection.
However, it was debutant Mukesh Kumar who triggered the West Indies collapse by trapping southpaw Alick Athanaze (37) in front with an inswinger in the first over of the day. Play began half hour before scheduled time after time was lost due to rain on day three.
Siraj’s first wicket of the day was Jason Holder who fished at a full ball swinging away to be caught behind. Next to depart was Alzarri Joseph, who had little clue about Siraj’s sharp incoming ball and was trapped LBW after India successfully reviewed the on-field call of not out.
Siraj completed his second five wicket haul of his Test career with another quick scrambled seam delivery that was too good for number 11 Gabriel.
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