2nd Test: Kohli, Agarwal and Vihari keep India ahead despite Holder’s brilliance
Virat Kohli batted with fluency and scored his 22nd Test half-century. (AFP Image)

Virat Kohli and Mayank Agarwal stood out with half-centuries for India against West Indies on Day 1 of the second Test in Jamaica. Their fifties – raised up at either end of the second session – helped India overcome a stutter, after which a crucial stand between Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari saw the hosts through stumps, at which point the score read 264/5.

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Jason Holder bowled like a dream. In fact, it was because of him that Kohli and Agarwal could not convert their fifties into hundreds. Rahkeem Cornwall was another success story. The debutant made the occasion even special, by being part of three dismissal – two catches and a maiden wicket: of Cheteshwar Pujara. And yet, India would feel they have their nose ahead, just by that much with Pant and Vihari playing some fluent strokes.

India vs West Indies, 2nd Test, Scorecard

With patches of grass, Holder had no second thoughts about fielding in a bid to repeat produce to repeat of Antigua, and even although it wasn’t as rewarding as the first spell, West Indies did not make life easy for India’s top order. KL Rahul struck a couple of handsome boundaries in the first over from Kemar Roach and Agarwal did the same to Shannon Gabriel.

Holder brought himself and started with a wicket maiden – Rahul squared up with a good length delivery and edging for Cornwall to take his first catch, at first slip. The stand between Pujara and Agarwal crawled – India scored 14 in the next ten over before Cornwall had his moment under the sun. The big guy bowled slightly off and Pujara, rocking on the backfoot chopped to Shamarath brooks at backward point.

Kohli batted with fluency. After an attritional first session, two familiar names – Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane came together to put India back on track with the session brining 85 runs for the loss of one wicket. After crawling to 5 off 30 before lunch, Kohli was helped by a Gabriel half-volley which he gleefully flicked for his first boundary. Cornwall was slapped through point and so was Holder. A struggling Gabriel was Kohli’s biggest gain, who repeatedly offered the India captain freebies which was dually punished. Four off his seven boundaries came off Gabriel, including the one that took him one short of a half-century.

Agarwal grew in confidence during a tough opening session. It took him almost 10 overs to score his third boundary – a juicy half-volley from Cornwall down the ground. It was followed by an attractive off drive through mid-off off Holder. Next up, Cornwall dropped it short and it was cut through backward point. Agarwal resumed proceedings post lunch with a couple of streaky boundaries, one an inside edge for four and other through the slip cordon that brought up his half-century.

In the next over, Roach seemed to have provided the breakthrough with the umpire adjudging Agarwal out caught behind before a review saved him. However, the next over, Agarwal was goaded into trying to cut a ball that was too high and close to his body to cut. Roston Chase troubled Rahane initially. A cut fell just short of the fielder at point and the ball almost rolled back on to the stumps after Rahane prodded forward to defend. It was Gabriel who allowed India’s vice-captain to get moving and together with Kohli, Rahane had added 42 important runs. But first over after tea, he nicked Roach to offer Jahmar Hamilton, another debutant, his first catch in Test cricket.

Kohli kept India motoring along. He took Cornwall for three boundaries in seven balls, and a 26th ton looked imminent before Holder bowled a fine delivery outside off, inducing a nick from the India captain. At 202/5, with Holder in the middle of a sharp spell, India looked dodgy, but Pant and Vihari settled nerves and batted with patience. Pant swatted Chase for six, and a couple of boundaries off him but was mostly kept quiet and indulged in a little battle with Cornwall bowling round the wicket to him.

Vihari looked the more confident of the two, striking the ball with tremendous control. He drove Gabriel down the ground for a couple of boundaries in the 85th over and even with the second new ball responded well to Roach, who was bringing the ball back in. Vihari flicked two boundaries in the final over of the day to remain unbeaten eight shy of a third half-century in Tests.

Brief Scores: India 264/5 (Virat Kohli 76, Mayank Agarwal 55, Hanuma Vihari 42*; Jason Holder 3/39) vs West Indies