St Lucia: With an entire day’s play of the third Test in St Lucia lost to heavy rain on Thursday, the odds were that the Test would progress towards a tame draw on the final two days of the Test, on Friday and Saturday. The first two days of this Test had seen some keen , but not greatly entertaining — cricket, the efforts of the two teams to impose their will and some impetus into the match stymied by a sluggish pitch and a preposterously slow outfield.
A magnificent performance by India, led positively by Virat Kohli — and inspired by a truly great spell of bowling by Bhuvneshwar Kumar — has placed the visitors in a position of authority that could see them win on Saturday, and thus take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
West Indies had begun steadily in reply to India’s first innings score of 353, and had closed day two at 107-1, denying their opponents with a safety and security rarely seen in West Indian batting performances of late. Indeed, India had only been able to affect their solitary dismissal through a brilliant run-out, so surely had the batsmen blunted the bowling.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo at No 3 appeared comfortable and assured, despite the best efforts of the Indian attack. Ishant Sharma induced the left-hander into a flapping, reckless hook that went straight to deep long leg for a regulation catch. Brathwaite followed shortly after, unfortunate perhaps to feather a wayward delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin, which bounced and turned down the legside into the wicket-keeper’s gloves.
West Indies’ fourth-wicket partnership was broken and this instigated a spectacular collapse — including their last seven wickets tumbling for 23 runs — and turning the match entirely upon its head. Quite simply, this was one of the best spells of seam bowling on an unresponsive pitch that we’ve seen in recent times, and it was a privilege to witness, though it was highly distressing viewing for a West Indies supporter. West Indies were all out on 225.
Then came the attacking intent from India who marched initially at around 6rpo, then were decelerated by Kohli’s dismissal and then re-vindicated by this Rahane-Rohit stand that has armed them to call the shots. A 85-run stand that now has garnered a lead of 285 runs.
Brief Score: India 353 and 157 for 3 (Rahane 51*) lead West Indies 225 (Brathwaite 64, Bhuvneshwar 5-33) by 285 runs
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