Kohli is the first Indian captain to post a Test double-century on foreign soil with a dominant performance.
A pulsating double-hundred by Virat Kohli has put India in the box seat after day two of the first Test against the West Indies in Antigua. Kohli’s magnificent innings was accompanied by a gritty century by Ravi Ashwin, as the pair added 168 for the fifth wicket to propel India to a mammoth total of 8-566 before Kohli declared. India fast bowler Mohammad Shami then struck late in the day as the West Indies went to stumps at 1-31.
Beginning the day at 4-302, Kohli moved to 150 by rocking back and pulling a short ball to fine-leg with consummate ease. Despite taking the second new ball in the morning session the West Indies quicks failed to generate much pace or lateral movement. Kohli was extremely cautious but at the same time equally assertive with his defence. While Kohli took a back seat, Ashwin upped the ascendency by hitting a flurry of boundaries. Batting at No.6 for the first time in his career, Ashwin punched the ball sweetly, playing some attractive shots down the ground. He was given a reprieve on 43, when wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, recalled for this series at the expense of veteran Denesh Ramdin, grassed a straight-forward chance off Shannon Gabriel. As the shine wore off the new ball, Kohli started to stamp his dominance once again.
A couple of effortless drives and a savage pull-shot wide of mid-wicket took him past his highest Test score of 169 that had come at the MCG in 2014’s Boxing Day Test. His cover-driving was the feature of his innings, as he pierced the three men placed in the cover region at will. Another graceful punch on the rise through mid-off and the double-ton was within the India captain’s sights. Ashwin, who had played the perfect foil, reached his 50 with a blazing square drive as the lunch break loomed. Some clever strike rotation by the pair ensured Kohli had the opportunity to bring up his 200 before lunch.
Finally, in the last over before the interval, Kohli strolled to his double-century with an easy single from the off-spinner Roston Chase. It was Kohli’s maiden first-class double century and he also become the first India captain to reach the milestone overseas. Kohli raised his bat and then kissed the Antigua turf, as he went to lunch unbeaten on 200 and in the process taking India to 4-404. A couple of balls after lunch, Kohli’s defence was finally broken as he dragged a length ball from Gabriel back on to his stumps. Kohli innings of 200 consisted of 24 glorious boundaries and his strike-rate of 70.64 on a slow pitch an indication of his sheer class. The loss of Kohli hampered India’s scoring rate in the second session, as Ashwin along with Wridhiman Saha, failed to up the tempo, but did pounce on the occassional long-hops offered up by Devendra Bishoo and Chase. Ashwin didn’t look in any hurry as he went about his business in second gear. Saha hit a couple of boundaries over the infield before being stumped on 40. But then, with the tea break looming and the declaration a possibility, Ashwin brought up his ton.
All of his three hundreds had come against West Indies but this one gave him legitimate claim to being a Test allrounder having been promoted to bat at the important No.6 position. After the tea interval, the push for quick runs brought about a couple of wickets for the West Indies. Ashwin fell for 113 and Amit Mishra also perished, but not before he too managed to score a rapid half-century. Kohli finally declared on 8-566, leaving his bowlers 16 overs to make some inroads into the West Indian batting. Rajendra Chandrika and Kraigg Braithwaite held their nerve for 14 overs but, just as stumps loomed, Shami found the outside edge of Chandrika’s bat. Before the start of the tour Kohli had stated, he wanted to start the series in an emphatic manner and dictate the terms from the outset. With a score of 566, India is in the driver’s seat but now the challenge rests for their five bowlers to take 19 more wickets on pitch that is showing no signs of wear or tear.