West Indies batsmen need to play aggressively if they want to push for a win in 3rd Test © AFP
West Indies batsmen need to play aggressively if they still want to push for a win in 3rd Test © AFP

Day Three of the third Test between India and West Indies ended without a ball being bowled due to persistent rain. Now this is a vital jolt to both the teams as the match was in the balance, though slightly more in favour of hosts, till Day Two. The Test has been a roller coaster ride for both the teams as on Day One, West Indies had India on the backfoot but a late and spirited fightback by the visitors saw them through the tough phase. On Day Two, the story remained the same but it was the home team who had their nose ahead after letting India ahead in the morning session. With rain coming as a surprise on Day Three, things have become gloomy in this Test to produce a result. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, 3rd Test match

With just two days left in the Test, it is most likely that this match will not have a winner, unless one of the teams explodes completely. The visitors are currently 1-0 up in the four-Test series with a win in the series opener at Antigua. Knowing Virat Kohli’s mindset to compete and be ruthless, he would still want to win and seal the series at St Lucia but his side are being tested to the fullest by the opponents in this Test, so far. On the hindsight, the visitors will be itching to level the series here and go for the kill in the final Test at Port-of-Spain. They would feel more worried as a whole day’s play has been missed due to sudden rains. ALSO READ: West Indies batting vs India: The drastic improvement

What has happened so far in third Test?

No doubt, West Indies are not a specialist Test team. They have excelled in the shortest format of the game and do well, occasionally, in the 50-overs format as well. But when it comes to donning their whites, they falter on most occasions. Their last Test series was against Australia against whom they lost the three-Test series 2-0, but showed signs of improvement towards the end. The same thing  is evident in this series as after the drubbing they received in the first Test, they showed a lot of character in drawing the second Test, which also looked lost, and hence have grown in a lot of confidence from thereon.

Their bowlers, on Day One, were right on the money as they troubled the visitors with well planned bouncers. India were struggling at 126 for 5 but a remarkable turnaround by Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha saw them past the 350-run mark. The duo added 213 runs together and played with the mind of the bowlers and according to situations. After their dismissals, the rest of the team got dismissed soon. Despite this big partnership, West Indies’ body language was good and were persistent throughout. Their temperament was also good, especially after Ashwin was caught off a no-ball when he was batting on 35.

After the platform given by Ashwin and Saha, the home team’s bowlers brought their side back into the match. India were all out for 353, a challenging but modest total. The West Indies top-order survived the last session in style. It just shows how much they have learned from the drawn Test and want to bank on it going forward. The Indian bowlers tried their luck with the short balls but remained ineffective. The hosts reached 107 for 1 at stumps on Day Two. With the wicket being batting friendly and the Indians being pushed to the wall, for the first time in the series, the hosts have their noses ahead but the sudden halt in the Test due to bad weather have dented their progress. A lot of time has been wasted in a  vital Test.

What should be the approach of hosts?

The play is scheduled to start early on Day Four. With 9 wickets remaining and trailing India by 246 runs, Jason Holder and co. should go all out on the visitors as they would be eager to draw the series before heading into the final Test. They have done all the hard work, improved a hell lot with both bat and ball, made Indians toil hard for runs as well as wickets. This is their best chance but with one entire day being lost, they will have to put on their dancing shoes. They are known to play Twenty20 (T20I) the best and will have to bring out their best from that format to somehow try and produce a result, in their favour, in this Test. ALSO READ: Hosts set to test India’s bowling depth on Day 3 of 3rd Test

Kraigg Brathwaite is unbeaten on 53 along with Darren Bravo on 18. Next to bat are Marlon Samuels followed by in-form players like Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dorwich and Holder. They can hammer the ball out of the park at will and will have to play smartly and aggressively. The plan should be to bat alongside Brathwaite, who will hold their innings together. If, let’s say, they add 350 runs on Day Four, they will have a total somewhere close to 460 runs. This means the lead will be over 100 runs.

They may bat one more session on Day Five and try can extend the lead close to 200. In this case, the Indians will be tested to bat till the end of the Test on the decisive day. India’s needless change in the batting-order saw them collapse in the first innings and were saved courtesy a brilliant hundred by Ashwin and Saha. No doubt they were stupendous but they may not carry the same form again.  DAY 3 REPORT: Day 3 Report: Play called off between India and West Indies due to persistent rain

The new faces in the Indian batting line-up will be done fire against an improved opponent and if the hosts maintain an aggressive approach right till the end of the match, they may still win and level the series. The weather has been a setback for the hosts, but this may just be a blessing in disguise as they may bring out their T20I mindset and surprise Kohli and co.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)