India reached 364 all-out, in response to WICB President’s XI first-innings score of 180, on day two of the three-day practice match at St.Kitts on Friday. Three Indian batsmen – Virat Kohli, Lokesh Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja -- hit fifties as India got good practice. For the opponents, upcoming off-spinner Rakheem Cornwall shone with 5 for 118. Batting for the second time, WICB President’s XI lost Leon Johnson for 17 from 27. John Campbell was unbeaten on 9, as the batting side finished on 26 for 1, trailing by 158 runs with one day to go.
Resuming at 93 for 3, Rahul and skipper Kohli excelled. They added 88 runs for the fourth wicket. The partnership was separated when Rahul retired hurt for 64 from 127 balls, with nine fours and a six. Kohli also went on to complete his half-century, and had reached a patient 51 from 94 balls, with four fours, when he was trapped lbw by Cornwall. As Kohli departed, India found themselves in a spot of bother at 187 for 5. It was now up to the lower order to ensure they finished with a good score.
Ajinkya Rahane spent some useful time out in the middle. He made 32 from 77 balls with the help of five fours when he was also sent back by Cornwall. The impressive off-spinner was also responsible for dismissal of Stuart Binny, who made 16 from 27. Thanks to Cornwall’s spell, India were reduced to 254 for 7. India’s late order though came to the party. Wriddhiman Saha made 31 from 47 before being run out while Ravindra Jadeja blasted 56 from 61, with eight impressive boundaries. He went on to become Cornwall’s fifth victim, giving a return catch to the bowler.
Jadeja found good support from Ravichandran Ashwin, who played a patient innings of 26 from 61 with four boundaries, before losing his wicket to a run out. The fact that last-man Amit Mishra made 10 not out meant opener Shikhar Dhawan (9) was the only batsman in the Indian innings not to reach double figures. With a big lead, and one full day to go, India will hope their bowlers can deliver a confidence-boosting victory before they head into the Antigua Test beginning in a few days’ time.
--By A Cricket Correspondent