Rain did its best to hinder India’s victory push even as the West Indies top order was unable to make the most of nature’s helping hand on yesterday’s fourth day of the second Test at Sabina Park.
Over the first three days of the match, India had built a formidable 304-run lead after racking up 500-9 declared in reply to West Indies’ paltry first-innings total of 196.
The hosts require a further 256 runs to avoid a second-consecutive innings defeat after being thrashed in Antigua a week ago in the opening match of the four-Test series.
Scores: West Indies 196 (52.3 overs) & 48-4 (15.5 overs); India 500-9 declared (171.1 overs).
Yesterday play was originally set to begin at 9:30 am — 30 minutes earlier than the usual start — to make up for some of the time lost due to two significant rain interruptions on Monday’s third day.
However, showers overnight and in the morning delayed the start.
When play finally began at 10:45 am, a rampant Indian bowling attack hardly missed a step during a stop-start session against a West Indies line-up palpably short on confidence and batting know-how.
Rajendra Chandrika, his place in the team in jeopardy after a series of low scores, was bowled by a rising delivery from tall fast bowler Ishant Sharma that ricocheted off the batsman’s right elbow onto the stumps as he tried to leave alone. The 26-year-old opener made one.
A short burst of rain then swept across the ground to interrupt play, but almost as quickly as it came it was gone.
And it did nothing to quell India’s appetite in the face of an extremely tentative start from the hosts.
Chandrika’s opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite was the most assured of the West Indies batsmen on the day, but he inexplicably gave his hand away when on 23.
With the skies overcast and rain interruption possible with each passing delivery, the usually resolute batsman opted to play a pull shot to a short delivery from leg- break bowler Amit Mishra.
But he was undone by spin and bounce and could only miscue for fielder Lokesh Rahul to run back to make the catch in the midwicket region. Brathwaite’s agonisingly slow walk to the pavilion told its own story.
A lot then rested on the shoulders of number four batsman Marlon Samuels, West Indies’ most experienced player.
But he was sensationally bowled by Mohammed Shami with a ball that pitched around off stump and held its line to hit the top of the stump with the batsman squared up and playing down the wrong line.
An out of sorts Darren Bravo, who has failed to muster a meaningful score in four innings this series, was lucky to have survived an early barrage from Sharma, who peppered him with short deliveries.
But when the left-hander reached 20 he fell to Shami after finding himself in an awkward position trying to fend off a short ball just before lunch. In the end he could only offer catching practice to slip fielder Rahul, who did not pass up the opportunity.
Rain then took centre stage arrest India’s charge, with the West Indies needing more of that on today’s final day if they are to stave off yet another Test defeat.