KINGSTON: Hanuma Vihari was grinding his way towards an elusive maiden Test hundred as India reached 336 for seven at lunch on the second day of the second and final Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Saturday.
Dismissed for 93 on the last day of the first Test a week earlier in Antigua, the 25-year-old right-hander was on 84 at the interval, doubling his overnight score on another sultry morning where he needed more than just a little luck to survive the constant probing of the West Indies on a challenging pitch.
He will resume in the afternoon session in partnership with Ishant Sharma after home captain Jason Holder and debutant off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall offered the Caribbean side hope of limiting India’s total.
Following on from an outstanding first day’s work when his figures of three for 39 off 20 overs stood out in the West Indies effort in the field, Holder struck with the very first ball of day two, breaching the defence of Rishabh Pant to give the hosts an immediate boost.
New batsman Ravindra Jadeja helped Vihari in putting on 38 runs for the seventh wicket. However, he struggled to curb his natural tendency to attack and perished for 16 attempting to hoist the persistent Cornwall over long-on, Darren Bravo taking the comfortable catch to earn the newcomer a deserved second wicket.
The burly Cornwall should have had the all-important wicket of Vihari as well shortly after but John Campbell could not hold on to the opportunity diving full-length to his right at slip.
On 68 when he benefited from that let-off, Vihari was then thankful to be reprieved by technology ten runs later as an lbw verdict against him off Holder was reversed on review of the television replays.
Sharma also enjoyed good fortune as he could have been run out on two occasions but for wayward throws from the infield.
Given their struggles against a quality Indian pace attack in the first Test, the task for the West Indies after lunch is to not only to deny Vihari a maiden Test century but also to prevent the visitors getting closer to the 400-run mark in the first innings.