Port of Spain: In his 500th international for India, former skipper Virat Kohli held the Indian fort together, like he has done on numerous occasions earlier, to help India reach 288/4 at stumps on the opening day of the second and final World Test Championship Test against the West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval here.
Kohli, the fifth-highest run-getter for India in Test cricket and inching closer to overtaking the fourth-placed VVS Laxman (8781), was batting on 87 at the close of play on Thursday and helped India extricate themselves from a difficult position after making a good start in the morning.
West Indies bowlers, after skipper Kraigg Brathwaite won the toss and elected to bowl first, made a stunning comeback in the second session and helped their side reduce India to 182/4 at Tea.
But Kohli held the innings together and in the company of all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja raised 102 for the unfinished fifth-wicket partnership. At stumps, Kohli was batting on 87 with Jadeja on 30.
Kohli has so far faced 161 deliveries in his cautious and crucial innings, hitting eight boundaries, operating at a strike rate of 54.3.
The 34-year-old Kohli was on 18 when India lost Ajinkya Rahane at the stroke of tea as the visitors slumped to 182/4. He completed his 30th half-century in Test cricket off 97 balls, hitting 6 boundaries. He and Jadeja added 50 runs for the fifth wicket partnership in 94 balls and then crossed the 100-run mark off just 162 balls.
With them at the crease, India will be hoping that they could post a total in access of 400 so that they can put the West Indies under pressure in their first innings and wrest the initiative from the hosts as they chase a 2-0 win in the two-match series and start their campaign in the 2023-23 World Test Championship season on a positive note.
Earlier, openers Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal looked virtually unperturbed in the first session and slammed their fifties. Rohit Sharma was the first to reach his half-century in 74 balls (5×4, 2×6) and Jaiswal, who struck a century in his maiden Test innings in the first match of the series last week, reached the half-century milestone off 49 balls as he hammered eight fours and one six.
However, the story was quite different in the second session as four West Indies bowlers picked up a wicket apiece to ensure India were in a spot of bother going into the tea break.
India’s opening stand was broken on 139 when Jaiswal fell after scoring 57 off 74 to Jason Holder, who had been the only bowler looking dangerous in the first session.
Rohit got a beauty from Jomel Warrican and fell for 80 off 143 before which Shubman Gill failed to make a mark once again, falling on 10.
Virat Kohli, who is playing his 111th Test for India, took 21 balls to get off the mark with a classy shot down the ground. He gained confidence as the day progressed and played some superb shots to help India recover from a precarious position.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (8) was dismissed in the last over before tea as West Indies got a shot in their arm. However, Kohli and Jadeja ensured that India did not lose any wickets in the final session and ended the day in a promising position.
Brief scores: India 288/4 in 84 overs (Rohit Sharma 80, Yashasvi Jaiswal 57, Virat Kohli batting 87, Ravindra Jadeja batting 30; Shannon Gabriel 1-50, Jason Holder 1-30) against West Indies