26 August, 2019
India enjoyed a session as close to perfect as possible, moving rapidly towards a big Test victory in Antigua after Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma eviscerated the West Indies top-order in a half-hour burst just before Tea. This followed a drought-ending century from Ajinkya Rahane, ironing out one of the few remaining creases in a Test team that is living up to its top billing.
The only two blemishes for India between Lunch and Tea involved a missed opportunity at a maiden hundred for Hanuma Vihari and a dropped catch by Virat Kohli in the slip cordon. Neither of the two brought West Indies much relief.
To Vihari first for he would have been expected to play second fiddle to Rahane after Kohli departed early in the day's play. Instead, India's No.6 displayed good technical acumen against both pace and spin, driving those of the fast kind down the ground and cutting the spinners past backward point. It was Rahane who was left having to regularly turn the strike over once Vihari enforced his positive outlook on the day's proceedings.
He'd swiftly moved past 50 before Lunch and continued in a similar vein as West Indies bowlers quickly resigned themselves to a declaration. That allowed Rahane, so edgy last evening, to pass trouble-free through the 90s despite having gone 17 full Test matches before this without a three-digit score. The overarching emotion after tucking a delivery off his hips to fetch a single was that of relief. He went three quarters of his way to the haunches before raising his bat in celebration.
Vihari was all set to soak in such a moment for himself with the Indian dressing room perched on the Antigua balcony in anticipation. As luck would have it, he was strangled down the legside by a harmless Jason Holder. Kohli wasted no time in calling time on the innings instantly, with West Indies already requiring a world record chase of 419 to win this game.
To break the chase into smaller modules, West Indies simply had to survive an eight-over phase before the Tea break. Instead, they fronted Bumrah and Ishant breathing fire and ended up losing half their line-up. Brathwaite poked tamely and was caught behind while John Campbell was cleaned up by an inswinger as Bumrah got his engines purring. From the other end, Ishant had Shamarh Brooks LBW with an inswinger and then atoned for Kohli's drop by inducing another edge from Shimron Hetmyer that Rahane held on too. Bumrah produced another booming inswinger to Darren Bravo - identical to the one bowled to Campbell - to leave the hosts tottering at 15/5.