West Indies vs India 3rd Test at Gros Islet has been like a roller coaster journey, where it is difficult to determine who has the upper hand. The Caribbeans winning the toss put India to bat first, with an expectation to strike early. They managed to put their plan in action, used the short ball effectively and reduced India to 87/3 before lunch.
The Indian Batting lineup was tested after a long time with some aggressive short balling. When the entire batting lineup looked in disarray the ship was steadied by some sensible batting by Ashwin and W. Saha who managed to take India to a respectable score at the end of first day.
On the second day both Ashwin and Saha completed their centuries and India was expected to score big when there was a batting debacle and the innings finished with a total of 353 on board. The last five wickets fell adding just 17 runs to the scoreboard. The West Indian batting lineup which showed some resilience in the second test match was up to the mark, and they sheer determination was visible in the approach.
The scoring rate was a bit slow but the application shown by the batters was really impressive. They ended the day with 107/1. Clearly they had an advantage over India, practically for the first time in the series.
Rain played the spoilsport on the third day and there wasn’t any play. A crucial day was lost which can have an impact on the end result of the game. Still West Indians at 107/1 had a competitive advantage which they could have leveraged to put India under pressure.
On the fourth day with the outfield getting slower following the heavy spell of rain, West Indians began the game planning to consolidate their position, gain a decent lead over the Indian total and be in a position where there isn’t any possibility to lose.
This was the first real chance for them to be in a dominating position and dictate terms. They started the fourth day cautiously, respecting the conditions and playing according to the merits of the ball. However as the day progressed there wasn’t any intent shown to accelerate the scoring rate to prevent the game to move toward a draw.
The score stagnated and the game did not move forward till the magic spell of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar who swung the game in India’s favor. A game which was looking to move towards a dull draw got a much need lifeline, invigorating enthusiasm in the Indian fans about a possibility of win. Bhuvneshwar’s classic spell of swing bowling swung out the West Indies batting lineup and handing India a first innings les dog 128 runs.
The intent shown by the Indians in the third innings was very obvious that were playing for a win. The opening was very brisk with KL Rahul taking the risk and going for the hits. Dhawan and Kohli got out in quick succession but the ship was steadied by Rahane and Rohit who scored half centuries each to put India at a commanding position. The notable thing was the rate at which the runs were scored.
The run rate for the innings currently stands at 4.02 which is very high as compared to the average run rates of both the teams in the first innings.
India’s lead now is 285, with two set batsmen at the crease and seven wickets in hand, India might look to play an additional 15 overs in the morning session with a mindset to maximize its lead and take it to about 375 in the least possible time and then have a go at the West Indian batting lineup. As the game lost a day due to rains a total of 98 overs would be played tomorrow giving India a leeway of 81 overs to get the opposition out, assuming the fact that India declares after 15 overs in the morning session.
New ball would remain the key for the deciding the fate of the game. If the Indians are able to pick up early wickets then it is going to be an interesting match which has all the ingredients to go down to the wire. The key bowler to look out for is Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who single handedly decimated the opposition in the first innings.
Given that the conditions are likely to remain overcast tomorrow it is likely to help B. Kumar who has a forte in swinging the ball both ways. Apart from this Ashwin needs to play a significant part in containing the batsmen from one end and build pressure given the fact that the outfield being wet, it would be difficult for him to grip the ball and pitch it at the correct spots.
It is going to be a cracker of a match today. Let’s hope that the rains stay away and we have a full days play.