Ashwin leads Indian recovery on day 1

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Ashwin leads Indian recovery on day 1

Virat Kohli got his wish to bat first despite losing the toss, but at 87/4, it appeared India were wrong in both their reading of the pitch and team selection. But Ravichandran Ashwin, again promoted up the order, and Wriddhiman Saha restored India to 234 runs at stumps of day 1 in the third Test.

After West Indies remarkably saved the second Test at Jamaica, India travelled to St. Lucia hoping to secure the series by clinching a win. Skipper Virat Kohli made three changes to the team and brought in Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Rohit Sharma for Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, and Cheteshwar Pujara respectively. West Indies also made two changes and added opener Leon Johnson and pacer Alzarri Joseph into the XI in place of Rajendra Chandrika and leggie Devendra Bishoo.

Beginning woes

At the toss, Indian skipper Virat Kohli said that he wanted to bat first, but after six overs into the innings, it seemed that India might have misjudged the nature of the pitch. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan opened the innings for India, but the southpaw departed early after falling to a short-ball from Shannon Gabriel. Dhawan failed to control the rising ball and tickled it to the wicketkeeper to depart for 1 in the 3rd over. Skipper Kohli came in next but followed his Delhi teammate quickly back to the pavilion to leave India in a spot of bother at 19/2. He went after a ball outside the off-stump from debutant Alzarri Joseph and edged it to Bravo in the slips.

With the team in trouble, last match’s centurions, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, weathered the storm and bided their time in the middle to take the Indian innings forward. The duo added 58 runs to India’s scores with Rahul being the dominant scorer. The Karnataka lad scored an impressive fifty from 65 balls and was looking good for another ton, but fell minutes before lunch. Rahul went after a short delivery from Roston Chase and smashed it in the direction of short fine leg, only to find Brathwaite, who had just moved to that spot.

Rohit Sharma, really?

Cheteshwar Pujara has been struggling with his form in the three innings that India have batted so far in the series, yet, it appeared too soon to drop him. Rohit Sharma had earned the nod today ahead of him and a fit-again Murali Vijay as India looked for the quick runs that Rohit would bring. But Sharma was quick only in his return to the pavilion on the day. With two fours, he appeared within a distance of a double-digit figure but fell agonizingly close at 9 as debutant Alzarri Joseph took his second wicket. It was a very good delivery as Joseph tempted Rohit with an out-swinging ball that induced an edge and then carried to the keeper.

Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin then patiently built the innings, but Rahane failed to capitalize on all his hard work. At 35, he failed to read a Roston Chase full toss and was bowled by the last match's hero.

Ashwin and Saha rebuild the innings

At 126/5, India were in a bad state, and West Indies suddenly did not look at all like the side that had been minnows when the series began. But Ashwin and Saha patiently played out the rest of the day. In fact, there was a spell soon after Rahane's dismissal when India did not score for 31 balls. The run-rate from the partnership was only 2.5, even lower than the innings rate of 2.6, as the two were bogged down by the slow outfield as well. Both Ashwin and Saha came up with consecutive fours in the final overs of the day as they looked to accelerate a bit, but more importantly they had saved India from a precarious position. 234/5 was not a bad score at all from where India were. The duo would look to start where they left off when play resumes tomorrow.

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