PORT OF SPAIN (AFP) – Ravichandran Ashwin snared two wickets for India but the West Indies showed a measure of resistance in reaching 76 for two after being set a daunting victory target of 365 on the fourth day of the second and final Test on Sunday.
A day packed with action at Queen’s Park Oval in between short, sharp showers saw Mohammed Siraj scything through the lower half of the home side’s first innings in the morning to earn his team a 183-run lead.
Blistering half-centuries by India captain Rohit Sharma and wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan then facilitated a swift second innings declaration at 181 for two off just 24 overs.
Ashwin, destroyer of the West Indies in the first Test in Dominica with an 11-wicket match haul, removed home skipper Kraigg Brathwaite to a top-edged sweep and then had debutant Kirk McKenzie lbw without scoring.
However the obdurate Tagenarine Chanderpaul, very much in the mould of his celebrated father Shivnarine, stayed to the close with vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood.
A target of 289 more runs on a final day pitch should be a step too far for the Caribbean side, especially given the greater experience, competence and confidence of an Indian side pressing for a 2-0 series sweep at the start of the new World Test Championship cycle.
In humid conditions at the start of the day, Siraj claimed the last four wickets to finish with his best Test figures of five for 60 as the West Indies crashed from an overnight position of 229 for five to 255 all out, their last five wickets tumbling for just 26 runs.
Sharma then led the rush for runs with a 35-ball 50 before lunch.
He eventually fell for 57 while his opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal was a casualty of a similarly attacking 38 in the three overs which were bowled in the afternoon session.
That was the cue for Kishan to play his natural game and the left-hander did not disappoint, belting an unbeaten 52 off 34 balls with four fours and two sixes embellishing his maiden Test half-century.
“I knew what the team needed from me in a short span of time and the backing of Virat Kohli really relaxed me to play my game,” said Kishan at the end of a long final session.
“The important thing tomorrow is execution. We have very good bowlers and senior players who always offer advice, but they aren’t in a bad position themselves, so tomorrow is about showing what all our preparation for this series was about.”
Debutant pacer Mukesh Kumar, who opened the floodgates for Siraj when he trapped Alick Athanaze leg-before in the first over of the day, was rewarded with a share of the new ball in the second innings.
However Brathwaite and Chanderpaul negotiated that challenge without any real alarms and it was left to the wily Ashwin to effect the breakthrough in the 18th over, making it four dismissals in four innings of the West Indies captain.