A Test match can be a bit like a pup: great players can lead it wherever they want. This West Indian XI does not have great players. They have great triers. Captain Jason Holder and coach Phil Simmons put the men on defence – understandable considering the opposition had a fat lead. Their best efforts have taken the Test to a point where the weather can threaten what once looked a certain victory for India. A tropical storm has been forecast to hit the region on the fourth day with India declaring 304 runs ahead and West Indies yet to bat in the second innings.
Ajinkya Rahane found himself part of a pattern, one that has been central to India’s success on this tour of the Caribbean. They have batted eleven-and-a-half sessions in this series. And a set batsman had been out there most of the time. Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and R Ashwin began the trend in Antigua. It continued with KL Rahul on day two and Rahane on day three, who went on to score his seventh Test hundred. This is the eighth straight series that he has scored a score of at least 90 in.
India were not panicking about the weather. The mountains on the horizon were obscured by heavy cloud. The rain break came 10 overs after lunch and spirited 52 minutes out of the game. Offspinning allrounder Roston Chase took two wickets in two balls and had them eight down soon after play resumed. The run-scoring stayed sedate.
Virat Kohli, sipping a hot beverage in the dressing room, was still in his training gear. He was clearly not thinking about the declaration. Perhaps Rahane approaching a Test century away from home had something to do with that. And with only Nos. 10 and 11 for company, he began to farm the strike. This was where West Indies’ discipline paid off. They had given away only 142 runs in 46.1 overs. They made India bat long for a lead they liked.
Rahane squirted an outside edge between slip and the wicketkeeper in the 170th over to reach his third hundred in four innings, captured on camera by the coach Anil Kumble and celebrated vigorously by his team-mates. The locals at Sabina Park had something to cheer too when Chase induced a top edge from Umesh Yadav to wrap up his first five-for in his second Test. With a high-arm action resembling Nathan Lyon, he got the ball to dip and bounce. Earlier, Amit Mishra failed to get to the pitch of one and was caught at short leg. Seconds later Mohammed Shami was bowled playing down the wrong line. Chase wore a sheepish grin on day two when he conceded he hadn’t liked going without a wicket on debut. Now he was leading his team off.
While it will be debated if India needed to bat on after the first rain break, or if they batted on to let Rahane reach his hundred – he was 83 when the rain came down – the fact remains that India had now batted West Indies out of the match. It remained to be seen if India would give enough time to register their first set of consecutive wins outside Asia since 2006, but they were assured they were not going to lose this one.
(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)