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The South Asian Insider

India vs West Indies: Rishabh Pant, Ajinkya Rahane put hosts in command

The 18,555 fans, who turned up on Saturday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here, mainly to watch their hero Virat Kohli bat, got to see a different show, one that featured two cocky Indian youngsters.

The 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw (70, 53 balls, 11x4, 1x6) and 21-year-old Rishabh Pant (85 batting, 120 balls, 10x4, 2x6) helped India get their act together at different stages of the innings.

In reply to West Indies’ first-innings total of 311, India first took flight on the wings of Shaw, then had a few jittery moments getting reduced 102/3, losing skipper Kohli before tea to be reduced to 162/4, and then finally coasting on an unbeaten 146-run stand for the fifth wicket between Ajinkya Rahane (batting on 75, 174 balls, 6x4) and Pant to end Day 2 on 308/4 with some poor ground fielding and two crucial dropped catches by the visitors lending a helping hand.

India had wrapped up the visitors within the first half-hour on Saturday with West Indies managing to add just 16 runs to their overnight total. Roston Chase (106, 189 balls, 8x4, 1x6) brought up his fourth Test hundred in the first ball of the second over of the day bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

All three wickets went to Umesh Yadav who returned career best figures and the best by a medium pacer on this ground with a 6/88. His previous best was 5/93 against Australia in Perth in January 2012. This was his second five-wicket haul in Tests.

Shaw got the Indian innings off to a flier. He was off the mark in the first over by Shannon Gabriel with a punch off the backfoot to the point boundary and the next ball he upper cut another short one for a six over third-man, a la Virender Sehwag.

The confidence Shaw got from his century on debut in Rajkot was showing as he dispatched every loose ball, of which there were many, and some very good ones to all corners of the park. He showed great command with shots square of the wicket on either side.

KL Rahul was still looking to settle down on four when India got to 50 in just 7.2 overs with Shaw on 34. Byes were the second-highest scorer then at 12. West Indies keeper Shane Dowrich got a knock in his left knee trying to stop a Gabriel delivery and had to be carried off the field. The ball went for four byes. There were two more fours in byes as substitute keeper Jahmar Hamilton initially struggled to get used to the bounce of the pitch.

Dowrich is unlikely to bat in the second innings and so after Shardul Thakur, both India and West Indies are now playing with 10 batsmen.

Shaw got a respite on 45 when Shai Hope dropped him at slips off left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican. Pant was on 24 when keeper Hamilton failed to latch on to an edge off Shannon. India were 196/4 then and the ensuing four brought up the 200.

Both Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara will be disappointed with their show here. Rahul chopped one on to his stumps and Pujara got a faint edge to the keeper.

Kohli was settling down with Rahane when one from Jason Holder nipped back in and he was given out leg-before. He reviewed it and had to go back after an “umpires call” on hitting the stumps. He scored 45 off 78 with five fours.