West Indies to chase a target of 365 on Day 5 with India needing 8 wickets

Spin Maestro Ravichandran Ashwin picked two wickets to help India to a strong position

Day 4 of the second Test between India and West Indies in Port of Spain witnessed some thrilling, albeit rain-marred action. Mohammed Siraj led the early bowling charge completing his fifer before a quick blitz from Indian batters set a target of 365 for the hosts. Ravichandran Ashwin then picked up two wickets to strengthen his team’s stranglehold on the final test of the series.

Day 3 was a start-stop day as the Indian bowlers failed to get in the rhythm and could take only four wickets in 67 overs as the hosts took a defensive approach rather than scoring runs with a lot of time and overs left in the match.

Starting Day 4 at 229/5, West Indies was hoping for the same resistance from its batters but Siraj had other plans as the speedster didn’t let the hosts bat more than 46 deliveries with a probing spell.

On the fourth ball of the day, Mukesh Kumar picked his second test wicket in the form of Alick Athanaze as the southpaw was trapped leg before wicket by a darting delivery from the debutant.

Former skipper Jason Holder tried to wrestle the momentum back with a boundary in the next over but Siraj had the last laugh as the all-rounder was caught behind wicket while chasing another boundary.

Windies tried to respond to a wicket with another boundary as Alzarri Joseph hit Mukesh down the ground with an eye-catching straight drive. Siraj removed the dangerous-looking Joseph in the next over as he convinced skipper Rohit Sharma to go for the review which turned out to be successful.

Mohammed Siraj is leading the Indian pace attack in the Caribbean islands

Kemar Roach was the next to be dismissed as he poked the ball seaming outside the off stump and Kishan completed another good catch behind the wicket to give the visitors the penultimate wicket of the innings with Shannon Gabriel getting out via LBW on his first delivery. Siraj completed his second fifer in Tests and recorded his best-ever figures of 5/60 as well courtesy of bundling the tail in a short span of time.

Following the impressive bowling performance, India’s opening batters came out all guns blazing in the second innings as Rohit and Yashasvi Jaiswal set the tone with the latter stepping out and hitting the ball over the cover region for a maximum in the first over.

Skipper Sharma joined the party soon as he hit three maximums clearing the intent and was helped by the fielders as well as he was dropped twice, first by Gabriel and then by debutant Kirk McKenzie at scores of 25 runs and 29 runs respectively and the experienced batter punished the Windies side duly with his fastest-ever Test half-century.

With the clouds hovering above, the visitors knew that scoring quick runs was the only option as the two-time WTC finalists raced to 50 runs in 5.4 overs and the mark of 90 runs was achieved by the end of 10 overs.

A couple of sedate overs followed the rampage and Sharma caved in as Gabriel dismissed the Indian skipper for a score of 57 runs off 44 deliveries as he was caught at fine leg by Joseph whilst attempting another shot that clears the fence.

Early lunch was taken as rain interrupted the play once again and Jaiswal seemed to have lost his concentration as Jomel Warrican’s extra turn and bounced foxed the opening batter who skied the ball and Joshua Da Silva pouched the catch safely in his gloves.

To maintain the right-left combination, India promoted Kishan to partner Shubman Gill and the duo put on 79 runs in less than 10 overs. Two consecutive maximums from the wicket-keeper batter in the 24th over helped Kishan reach his first Test half-century in only 34 balls as India ended up declaring at 181 for 2, with a daunting target of 365 for the West Indies to chase down. 

The pressure was on the hosts considering this was the highest-ever target at Port of Spain. Openers Kraigg Braithwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul walked into the middle to open the batting for the hosts yet again.

With Chanderpaul playing to save his wicket, Brathwaite started deploying the sweep shot to negate the threat of Ashwin and Jadeja and that led to his downfall as a misconnected sweep shot found Jaydev Unadkat at fine leg and the left-arm seamer pouched the catch safely. Skipper Brathwaite could only muster 28 runs off 52 deliveries as he ends the India series with only one half-century against his name.

Chanderpaul finally got into double figures on the 63rd delivery he faced on the day with his first boundary of the second innings. After impressing in the first innings, Mckenzke faltered against Ashwin as he was trapped in front and returned back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers.

Jermaine Blackwood scored two boundaries in the 28th over against Ashwin and Chanderpaul started the 29th over with a boundary against Siraj ensuring some fightback from their side.

With the match firmly tilted in India’s favor, fans will be hoping that the rain gods decide to bear mercy on the final day of the 2nd Test. Team India will be looking to bundle out the Carribbeans quickly and seal another comfortable victory. The hosts need a further 289 runs to win, and the visitors will be heavily favored to pick up their 8 wickets instead.