Kingston : Star batsman Ajinkya Rahane scored his seventh Test century as India gathered a vital 304-run first innings lead against the West Indies at stumps on the third day of the second cricket Test at the Sabina Park Stadium here on Monday.
India declared at 500/9 in their first innings as heavy rains forced play to be called off for the day.
Rahane remained unbeaten on 108 off 237 balls, with 13 fours and three sixes. The Mumbai-based batsman was well supported at the other end by lower-order batsman Wriddhiman Saha (47) and tail-enders Amit Mishra (21) and Umesh Yadav (19).
For the hosts, Roston Chase (5-121) was the pick of the bowlers.
Resuming the day at 358/5, Rahane and Saha braved the difficult conditions and excellent bowling to plow on patiently and to build up the visitors’ lead.
Rahane reached his half-century in style, cutting pacer Miguel Cummins over the slip cordon for a boundary.
However, with the boundaries too few and far between, the scoring rate became a bit slow.
Luck finally smiled on the holder on the stroke of lunch when an incoming delivery stayed a bit low and Saha misread the bounce only to see the ball strike him on the rear pad.
The sturdy right-armer celebrated as the teams went in for lunch, but with the pitch starting to show signs of wear and tear, the hosts may struggle once they come out to bat in their second innings.
Rahane and Saha displayed loads of grit and patience to take India to 425/6 at lunch.
At lunch, Rahane was unbeaten on 74 runs.
Saha, on the other hand, was unlucky to miss out on what would have been an extremely well-deserved half-century as he was dismissed on the last ball before tea.
The Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman scored 47 runs before being outfoxed by a delivery from fast bowler Jason Holder that stayed a bit low after pitching.
The West Indies bowlers produced a better performance than what they had on the second day, helped on in no small part by a wicket which is beginning to wear down a bit.
Holder was the only West Indies bowler to taste success in the pre-lunch session, returning figures of 1/66 from the 32 overs he has bowled so far.
With the wicket showing appreciable movement and bounce, he exploited the conditions well to make the going tough for the Indian batsmen, outfoxing them time and again.
Rahane in particular had a very hard time against Holder, with one particular over seeing the pacer beat the Mumbai batsman as many as five times. Indeed, Holder was unlucky not to bag more wickets.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo was also impressive, making the ball turn sharply to cause plenty of trouble for the batsmen.
Bishoo was also unlucky as he missed Rahane’s wicket when the latter was on 65. The Mumbai batsman attempted to cut a delivery that was not short enough. The top edge looped up to the right of point where Rajendra Chandrika dropped a relatively easy chance.
Resuming play after lunch from 425/6, Rahane and Mishra held on quite well by gathering some useful runs before Mishra fell to Chase. The off-spinner struck in two successive balls to remove Mishra and incoming batsman Mohammad Shami.
But new batsman Umesh Yadav struck a handy knock to help team India reach the 500-run mark.
Brief scores: West Indies 196 (Jermaine Blackwood 62, Marlon Samuels 37; Ravichandran Ashwin 5-52, Mohammed Shami 2-23) vs India 500/9 dec (Lokesh Rahul 158; Ajinkya Rahane 108 not out; Roston Chase 5-121).