CMC – Opener Kraigg Brathwaite’s tenth Test match fifty underscored a positive West Indies reply after centuries from Ravi Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a strong foothold on the second day of the third Test here Wednesday.
Responding to the visitors’ 353, West Indies reached the close on 107 for one, still 246 runs adrift of first innings lead, heading into the critical third day of the contest at the Darren Sammy National Stadium.
The right-handed Brathwaite was leading the fight with an unbeaten 53 and was partnered by Darren Bravo who was not out on 18.
Leon Johnson, in his first Test in 20 months, was the only casualty for West Indies when an error in judgement saw him run out for 23.
The left-hander faced 75 balls and struck two fours, and had added 59 for the first wicket with Brathwaite when he chanced a quick single to the right of KH Rahul’s at short mid-wicket, only to be beaten by a direct hit at the non-striker’s end.
He perished on the stroke of the first hour after tea but Bravo joined Brathwaite to ensure there was no customary collapse, by helping to post another 48 for the second wicket.
Brathwaite, with two failures in the last Test in Kingston, has so far faced 143 deliveries and struck six fours while the left-handed Bravo has consumed some 66 deliveries and counted two fours.
The 23-year-old Brathwaite, obdurate and heavily defensive for most of his innings, gathered his second half-century of the series in the day’s final over with when he slashed pacer Ishant Sharma over point for four and then followed up with a steer over slips to the third man boundary.
Earlier, Ashwin carved out his fourth Test century against West Indies and the second of the series while Saha gathered his maiden hundred, to extend India’s resurgence and further frustrate West Indies.
Ashwin made 118 off 297 balls with six fours and a six and was matched by Saha who stroked 13 fours in his 104 off 227 deliveries. Together, they posted 213 for the sixth wicket – resetting a 33-year-old record – before they were eventually separated.
Resuming the day on 234 for five, India added just 21 runs off 13 overs in the first hour but Ashwin and Saha upped the tempo considerably to score 61 runs off the remaining 12 overs, and reach lunch at 316 for five.
Ashwin survived the third chance of his innings about 25 minutes before lunch when he was put down on 92 by Johnson at forward short leg off a sharp chance off off-spinner Roston Chase (2-70).
He capitalised in the next over by smashing pacer Miguel Cummins square on the off-side for a boundary to move to 99 but was unable to reach three figures off the next seven deliveries he faced before the break.
However, he raised his landmark in the second over after lunch when he hoisted Chase over mid-wicket for six.
Saha, meanwhile, unbeaten on 93 at lunch, reached triple figures four overs later when he punched Chase through square cover for a couple.
India were in complete control at 339 for five when Cummins (3-54) returned to wreck the innings, as the visitors lost their last five wickets for just 14 runs.
Seven balls after reaching his hundred, Saha nicked seamer Alzarri Joseph (3-69) behind to give the debutant 19-year-old his third wicket and with 12 runs added, Ravindra Jadeja fell to another catch at the wicket off Cummins for six.
Three wickets then tumbled with the score on 353. Bhuvneshwar Kumar fended a short one from fast bowler Shannon Gabriel (2-84) to Johnson at short leg, Ashwin parried a Cummins snorter to Jermaine Blackwood at gully and Ishant lasted three balls in the same over before also being taken at short leg off another short-pitched delivery.