Ajinkya Rahane on Monday
Kingston: The West Indies struck on the stroke of lunch as India reached 425 for six at lunch on Day III of the second Test here at the Sabina Park, extending their lead to 229.
India declared their first innings at 500 for nine, thus taking a lead of 304 runs. The declaration came with the dismissal of Umesh Yadav, who made a 14-ball 19. Ajinkya Rahane stayed not out on 108, hitting 13 boundaries and three sixes. For the West Indies, Roston Chase took five wickets, giving away 121 runs.
The West Indies bowlers gave a tough time to Ajinkya Rahane (74 batting) and Wriddhiman Saha (47) before home team captain Jason Holder trapped the wicketkeeper-batsman in front of the stumps on the cusp of lunch to end the 98-run stand.
India ended up losing only wicket in the morning session, collecting 67 runs in 26.4 overs.
Resuming on the overnight 358/5, Rahane and Saha looked to get set and push the lead as further as possible, while keeping in mind the possibility of rain later in the match as a tropical storm built up in the Caribbean Sea.
The day started bright and sunny, though, and Rahane quickly got to his half-century off 93 balls.
Shanon Gabriel and Miguel Cummins bowled well in the first hour of play, as the West Indies continued their ploy of bowling tight and not giving away easy runs to the batsmen.
Only 34 runs came in the first hour of the morning and thereafter Devendra Bishoo and Holder came on to bowl.
That is when Rahane's concerns began as Holder mixed his incoming and out-swinging deliveries well, and troubled the set batsman.
Rahane was beaten a couple times and there were other interesting leg-before shouts against him, but he stayed put at the crease. He was frustrated, though, and the good spell induced an edge in the 147th over off Bishoo. But Rajendra Chandrika dropped him at backward point.
He was on 65 at that time and yet managed to survive the period of play, going into the break unbeaten after trying to break the shackles with two boundaries in the 148th over.
The 400-mark had come up for India in the 141st over, as the lead too crossed the 200-mark. However, the effects could be seen at the other end too, as the run scoring was tightened up further and Saha looking in a bit of trouble.
Holder then finally got some reward for bowling tight when he trapped the 'keeper-batsman leg-before just before lunch, getting his first wicket in the series. On Day I, Ravichandran Ashwin picked up five for 52, his 18th five-wicket haul in 34 Tests as the West Indies were bundled out for 196 runs in the first innings.
On the second day, Lokesh Rahul scored 158 runs, his third Test hundred as India took good control of the match.
Wriddhiman Saha sweeps as wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich watches on Monday
Meanwhile, Phil Simmons patted the West Indies bowlers for not allowing Indian batsmen to score freely on Day II even though they couldn't pick up more than four wickets. According to the West Indies head coach, the bowlers are learning to be patient.
"Usually, you average a score of around 270 in Test cricket with 90 full overs a day and in that sense, we have restricted India, especially with Lokesh Rahul going the way he was and then the skipper (Virat Kohli) later.
"Restricting them to 232 in (88 overs) shows there's improvement from the previous Test," Simmons said after Sunday's play.
"I think they learnt what we have been talking about for the last six months. They are learning to be patient in Test cricket.
"When the wicket isn't assisting like this one, you have to be patient and then the pressure that you build from patience will get you wickets. I think what I have learnt that they are listening sometimes.
"I hope they are listening all the time. They are seeking patience now and trying to hold these world-class batsmen back," Simmons added.
The West Indies, surprisingly, didn't take the second new ball on Sunday when it was available, while India too had a new batsman at the crease then in Kohli. Asked about it, Simmons came up with a terse reply.
"I don't know... Haven't spoken to the captain yet," Simmons said.
Regarding the hosts' decision to bat first on a wicket that was lively in the first morning, even Ravichandran Ashwin found it surprising. Simmons, however, doesn't find the decision to be amusing, saying the batsmen had failed to do their job.
"Batsmen are supposed to bat. I didn't think there was any threat in the wicket on Saturday. So, I would also bat first," he said.
Simmons expects the Ashwin-led India's spin attack to be a threat in the second innings as well.
"It's definite. Ashwin is the No. 1 bowler in the word. He is going to be difficult on any wicket you play him on, let alone a pitch that's turning and has some bounce too.
"It's going to be difficult, but that's what Test cricket is about. If it's not difficult, it won't be called Test cricket.
"The batsmen know that they have to come and make sure they put their heads down and work hard against the spinners. The batsmen have got to stand up and hopefully, they will," Simmons emphasised.