Outside a St John’s eatery famous for its ribs, salt fish and bakes, an elderly man was resting his head on his radio, impatiently waiting for the updates on cricket after the first day’s play. The teenager seated beside him finally relieved him of his misery by checking the score on his smart phone. “Virat made a century?,” he asked. On getting confirmation, he shook his head for a few seconds. “Thank god I didn’t go. Who wants to see West Indies being hammered like this?,” he said.
The hammering only got more intense on the second day. Almost allowed to carry the momentum from the first day, Kohli waltzed to his first double century before R Ashwin anchored a belligerent fifty from Amit Mishra with his third Test century. Kohli finally declared at 566/8, allowing his bowlers 16 overs to have a crack at the West Indies. They did it with 10 balls to go when Mohammed Shami induced an edge off Rajendra Chandrika’s bat to the wicket-keeper.
The morning witnessed Kohli become the first Indian captain to score a double hundred overseas. While his first hundred took 134 balls, Kohli’s second came in another 147 deliveries. That doesn’t mean Kohli slowed down any time during his 283-ball stay. Only his efficiency in picking the right balls to score jacked up. West Indies bowlers were understandably defensive against Kohli. Particularly disconcerting however for the hosts was how Ashwin raised his stock as an all-rounder by crafting a patient century at No.6. Throughout the 168-run partnership for the fifth wicket, the hosts were mere spectators. Fortunately for them,in the first over after lunch, Shannon Gabriel’s delivery hit the bottom of Kohli’s bat and clattered into his off-stump.
It ruined an opportunity of a possible triple century for Kohli but more significantly, West Indies still didn’t play any crucial part in this dismissal too. It was Kohli’s own undoing. In such favourable conditions, Ashwin couldn’t have let go the opportunity to pile the misery on West Indies. Ashwin showed immaculate technique to up the rate of his scoring with classic shots like the punch through covers or the on drive. Gabriel could have won a second wicket for the day had wicket-keeper Shane Dorwich not grassed Ashwin’s catch when he was on 43.
The pitch, albeit a good batting one, is slowing down though. First sign of that came in the 104th over by Brathwaite where two consecutive deliveries stayed low after pitching. But as long as the West Indies bowlers didn’t attack the stumps, Kohli and Ashwin didn’t mind the odd ones that didn’t rise enough. Like a popular movie on the loop, the duo kept blocking and piercing the gaps with ease. In due time, Ashwin raised his fifty with a boundary punched through point. The scoring pattern achieved such a boring consistency that it showed no sign of abating even after Kohli’s dismissal as Wriddhiman Saha too started playing freely. It left the West Indies players with their hands on the hips. When the camera panned once on Sir Vivian Richards, he appeared stoic, bravely watching the almost abject surrender of his ‘boys’. And as if bowling defensively with spread out fields wasn’t regressive enough, West Indies also dropped a slew of catches. Later in the day when Shami was going hammer and tongs with Mishra, West Indies captain Jason Holder couldn’t hold on to the simplest of catches offered by Shami off Kraigg Braithwate. The India pacer then rubbed in some more salt by stepping out to hit Brathwaite for a six over his head. Runs were literally doled out to India. Apart from the first and eighth wickets, all other six partnerships crossed at least 50. But most effective were the last two partnerships that raised 91 runs in 17.5 overs.
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