Team India carried on their dominating form into Day 2 of the first Test at Antigua. Resuming at 143 not out, skipper Virat Kohli continued in his dominating ways, and ended up scoring his maiden double hundred in first-class cricket. Even after he was dismissed, immediately after reaching the landmark, Ravichandran Ashwin continued his love affair with the West Indies attack. Friday’s ton meant all his three Test hundreds have come against the same opposition. With India seeking a declaration, leggie Amit Mishra threw his bat around, and helped himself to a quick half-century. India eventually gave up batting at 566 for 8.
India’s declaration left West Indies with 16 dangerous overs to survive. They had nothing to gain really, and lots to lose. The fact that West Indies’ opening pair has struggled for a while now would have given the visitors further confidence. Against a probing Indian attack, Kraigg Brathwaite and Rajendra Chandrika made their best attempts to survive. They held on until the 15th over, when the stand of 30 was broken as Chandrika edged comeback man Mohammed Shami behind the wickets. Brathwaite managed to survive, making 11 from 50, but at 31 for 1, West Indies were left with a mountain to climb.
West Indies also did not help their cause, with some poor fielding, which has become synonymous with their game over the years. Shannon Gabriel, like on the opening day, was the only pacer to make an impression on the Indian batting. He produced an edge off Ashwin, when he was on 43, but wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich spilled the chance, looking over-eager to celebrate. West Indies adopted defensive tactics to slow India down, and while Ashwin was okay being kept silent, the aggressive nature in Kohli did now allow him to be dominated.
His driving was again top notch, and one shot off Devendra Bishoo took him past his previous Test best score of 169. Even when not getting the boundaries, he made sure he kept picking up the ones and twos. It was one such single that brought up his first Test double hundred just before lunch, the first by an away Indian captain. Kohli celebrated by kissing the Antigua turf. Post resumption, he fell immediately, playing on to Gabriel looking for quick runs. Kohli finished on exactly 200 from 283 balls, an innings punctuated with 24 fours.
The celebrations weren’t over for India as yet. Ashwin carried on, even though seeming in no hurry. A few minutes before tea, a back-foot through mid-wicket saw Ashwin bringing up three figures. While Ashwin anchored one end, Wriddhiman Saha and Mishra decided to go after the bowling. Saha got 40 before being stumped while Mishra was the last man out for 53, a wicket which also brought along the declaration. The icing on the cake for India was the wicket of Chandrika just before close of play. But, for that chance offered by Ashwin, it was a perfect day for the Indians.
--By A Cricket Analyst