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Ashwin-Saha lead India’s recovery on opening day


Gros Islet: India today recovered from a top-order collapse to reach a decent 234 for five at stumps on the first day of the third cricket Test, riding on a fighting 108-run stand for the sixth wicket between Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha.

Ashwin (75 batting) and Saha (46 batting), grinded it out to steady the innings and batted out the entire final session after India were precariously placed at 126 for five after Ajinkya Rahane’s dismissal for 35.

Early on, opener Rahul’s crisp 50 off 65 balls came after the visitors lost Shikhar Dhawan and captain Virat Kohli cheaply.

The West Indies, with their morale boosted after securing a dramatic draw in second Test, bowled with purpose to put the opposition under pressure. Debutan pacer Alzarri Joseph was impressive and took the prized wicket of Kohli.

Post-tea, Ashwin and Saha looked to get things going again and build a partnership that could dig India out of a huge hole. And while they succeeded in doing so, there were quite a few hiccups along the way.

In the 55th over, three overs after play resumed, Jason Holder (0-27) swung a delivery in sharply and Saha shouldered arms, only for the ball to hit the flap of his pad. Umpire Nigel Llong deemed it not out, with the batsman on 1 at that time.

In the very next over, on 26, Ashwin was almost caught at forward short leg, the ball just dropping short, with Roston Chase (2-38) the unlucky bowler. Chances kept coming for the West Indies, and the biggest miss was in the 63rd over, when Ashwin was caught at point off Shannon Gabriel (1-68), but got a reprieve as the bowler had stepped on the side-crease and it was deemed a no ball. He was on 35 then.

India’s 150-mark came up in the 65th over, but the scoring rate was down to a trickle. The two batsmen didn t mind that and continued to grind out their innings, with the 50-partnership coming off 155 balls.

Saha got away twice thereafter, first a run-out chance in the 79th over when he was halfway down the pitch but the fielder couldn’t get a direct throw in. Then, in the 82nd over as the new ball was taken, Joseph (2-38) induced an edge only for the ball to die down inches away from keeper Shane Dowrich.

Ashwin then celebrated his seventh Test half-century off 157 balls, and the 200-mark came up in the 84th over.

The duo struck some exquisite boundaries towards the end of day’s play providing a late flourish to the total, and added 104 runs without the loss of a wicket in the final session, which otherwise could have looked embarrassing for the visitors.

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