1st Test, Day 3, Tea report: Kuldeep’s maiden five-for brings India within striking distance
Kuldeep Yadav picked up his maiden five-wicket-haul in Tests. (AFP image)

India took a step closer to a mammoth win over West Indies, reducing them to 185/8 in the second innings at the tea interval on Day 3 of the Rajkot Test. After enforcing the follow-on having dismissed West Indies for 181 in the first innings in the first session, Kuldeep Yadav registered his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests to bring India within striking distance of wrapping things up inside three days.

Chinaman Kuldeep finished with slightly expensive returns of 1/62 in the first innings, but come the second, the 24-year-old bamboozled the inexperienced West Indies batting order by becoming only the second bowler after Bhuvneshwar Kumar to record a five-for in all three formats. Kuldeep took over after R Ashwin – who had scalped his fifth wicket of the match by taking out captain Kraigg Brathwaite at the stroke of lunch – and ripped through the middle order with only Kieran Powell playing a fighting innings of 83.

Powell was ruthless from the word go. He got West Indies off the blocks by taking India’s best bowler from the first innings – R Ashwin – for a boundary and a six off the offspinner’s first two overs before taking on pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. Ashwin was carted for one more six, and Powell was strokeful in his approach despite wickets falling at the other end. His 93-ball innings included four sixes and eight boundaries, and as long as he was out there, there was a chance of West Indies stretching things till the final session.

At the other end, the other batsmen were being overwhelmed by Kuldeep. From 79 for 1, West Indies slumped to 138 for five. Debutant Sunil Ambris was foxed by a googly and was out stumped, Shai Hope was pushed onto the backfoot to be given out leg-before. He bowled full to Shimron Hetmyer sliced the ball to backward point. With Roston Chase, top scorer from the first innings, partnering Powell, West Indies had one last hope, but this wasn’t Sabina Park from 2016 where he would bail his team out of trouble. He found Ashwin at cover and West Indies were five down for 138.

Powell’s dismissal, 17 short of his century was the final nail in the coffin. Keemo Paul – 47 in the first innings – helped himself to a run-a-ball 15 with two fours and a six before he found Umesh in the deep. Devendra Bishoo survived a caught behind appeal but India reversed the decision by reviewing the call and Ashwin added a sixth to his match tally.

Earlier, India continued to establish dominance over West Indies, bowling them out for 181 in the first innings. Resuming at 94/6, overnight batsmen Paul and Chase batted with defiance to put on 73 runs for the seventh wicket, before Umesh broke the partnership. Ashwin then picked up the last three wickets to finish with 4/37. Having attained a colossal first-innings lead of 468 runs, India enforced the follow-on.

Chase and Paul continued from where they’d left off on Friday, throwing their bat at everything. The move seemed to pay off as eight boundaries were scored in the first seven overs of the day. Chase swept Kuldeep with precision to piece the gap between square leg and deep midwicket. Everytime the ball was bowled outside off, the batsmen put away the half-volleys to the fence.

Both batsmen used their feet well and were helped by certain pleasantries. Paul, the aggressor of the two, took Shami for consecutive fours in the 33rd over, and tonked a six off Kuldeep. In between, there were signs that both batsmen were struggling to read the spinners. But with boundaries coming frequently, Virat Kohli introduced Umesh for Shami. Three short of a half-century, Paul found Cheteshwar Pujara at mid-on.

Chase struck a couple more boundaries to bring up his sixth Test fifty before becoming Ashwin’s second wicket, playing on. His dismissal exposed the inexperienced lower order, which Ashwin feasted on. Kuldeep, having conceded runs, picked up his first wicket removing Shane Dowrich.

Bishoo slogged and collected three boundaries to remain unbeaten on 17 off 26 as Ashwin took out the remaining two wickets. Sherman Lewis was left gasping at the carrom ball that took out his off stump, while Shannon Gabriel tried to flick a doosra for Rishabh Pant to affect his first stumping of the match.

Brief scores: West Indies 185/5 (Kieran Powell 85; Kuldeep Yadav 5/57) and 181 all out (Roston Chase 53; R Ashwin 4/37), trail India (649/9 decl) by 283 runs at tea on Day 3.