Virat Kohli equalled Sir Don Bradman’s record of 29 hundreds in India’s commendable first innings score of 438 but their bowlers found it a tough grind as West Indies ended second day on 86 for 1 in the second Test in Port of Spain.
Kohli, who missed out on a hundred in the previous Test, made amends with a polished 121 in 206 balls, his 76th hundred in 500 international appearance.
In the process, Kohli also added 159 runs for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (61 off 152 balls), who also scored his 19th half-century in Tests.
Ravichandran Ashwin (56 off 78 balls), with four hundreds against the same opposition, did look comfortable against both spin and pace as he played some adventurous ramp shots off Kemar Roach to help himself to a half-century and take his team closer to 450.
West Indies openers displayed a solid defensive game before Jadeja (1/12 in 10 overs) prevailed after playing with young Tagenarine Chanderpaul’s (33 off 95 balls) patience.
The southpaw tried to loft a delivery that landed on the rough and the thick outside edge was taken at point by his spin bowling partner Ashwin.
However, the pitch, which is getting slower with the passage of time, didn’t have much for the bowlers as the new Dukes ball was changed at least thrice in the first 20 overs on the insistence of the Indian team which found it going out of shape.
The change of ball didn’t bring any change in fortune for the Indian bowlers as the dependable West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (37 batting, 128 balls) and stodgy Chanderpaul survived nearly 35 out of 41 overs without much difficulty.
They mostly defended with a few boundaries in between. Brathwaite had debutant Kirk Mckenzie (14 batting, 25 balls) for company.
There was no carry off the surface and the inexperienced pace attack of Mohammed Siraj (0/23 in 7 overs), Jaydev Unadkat (0/12 in 6 overs) and Mukesh Kumar (0/10 in 4 overs) couldn’t produce anything ‘out of the box’ on a literally dead track.
Ashwin (0/29 in 14 overs) and Jadeja were certainly better bets for providing breakthrough but the West Indies opening duo gave a much better account of themselves compared to Dominica Test. There was no turn on offer and skipper Rohit Sharma would expect that pitch would do some trick to aid his slow bowlers on the third day.
Kohli’s first overseas ton in nearly five years
The first session of the second day undoubtedly belonged to Kohli, who was hardly troubled by any of the West Indies pacers, having taken 77 runs in singles, doubles and triples apart from the 11 boundaries in his innings.
Starting the day at 87, Kohli reached his century in the first half an hour while dispatching a Roach delivery wide of point with a stretched square drive. The wide grin while raising his bat and then taking a bow said it all.
The satisfaction of scoring his first overseas Test hundred in half a decade was palpable, having last scored a ton on foreign soil in Perth in 2018.
The Queens Park Oval track is certainly way better for strokeplay compared to first Test venue of Windsor Park in Dominica. One could hit through the line even though there were deliveries that were gripping off the surface and some that stopped and came onto the bat.
Kohli’s greatness lay in his game awareness as the cornerstone of his innings was 45 singles and 13 doubles in energy sapping conditions.
He would be pleased because as many as nine of his 11 boundaries were hit on the off-side with the signature cover drive coming out of his closet time and again.
To his relief, the absence of off-break Rahkeem Cornwall did make things a bit easier as left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican (3/89 in 39 overs), despite his restrictive lines, did not get a lot of purchase off the surface.
Most of the deliveries come in with the angle and it was easier to just tickle it off his hips for singles and doubles.
Kohli got an able ally in Jadeja, who got another half-century and reaffirmed his status as a batting all-rounder in overseas conditions.
Once he was run-out and Jadeja also followed him after being rightly given out by TV Umpire despite DRS replay glitch, Ashwin was the lone ranger with a well-compiled fifty.
One person who would be disappointed will be Ishan Kishan (25), who played a tame shot after getting set and lost out on gaining a clear advantage over Kona Bharat.
India 1st innings: Yashasvi Jaiswal c McKenzie b Holder 57 Rohit Sharma b Warrican 80 Shubman Gill c da Silva b Roach 10 Virat Kohli run out 121 Ajinkya Rahane b Gabriel 8 Ravindra Jadeja c da Silva b Roach 61 Ishan Kishan c da Silva b Holder 25 Ravichandran Ashwin b Roach 56 Jaydev Unadkat st da Silva b Warrican 7 Mohammed Siraj lbw b Warrican 0 Mukesh Kumar not out 0
Extras: (LB-4 NB-8 W-1) 13
Total: (All out in 128 overs) 438
Fall of wickets: 1/139 2/153 3/155 4/182 5/341 6/360 7/393 8/416 9/426 10/438
Bowling: Kemar Roach 22-2-104-3, Alzarri Joseph 22-0-97-0, Shannon Gabriel 18-0-74-1, Jomel Warrican 39-7-89-3, Jason Holder 21-3-57-2, Alick Athanaze 4-0-12-0, Kraigg Brathwaite 2-1-1-0.
West Indies 1st Innings: Kraigg Brathwaite batting 37 Tagenarine Chanderpaul c Ashwin b Jadeja 33 Kirk McKenzie batting 14
Extras: (NB-2) 2
Total: (For 1 wicket in 41 overs) 86
Fall of wickets: 1/71
Bowling: Mohammed Siraj 7-2-23-0, Jaydev Unadkat 6-0-12-0, Ravichandran Ashwin 14-3-29-0, Mukesh Kumar 4-1-10-0, Ravindra Jadeja 10-6-12-1.