Two teams. Same surface. Different application. That’s how one can best sum up the opening day of the second Test between India and West Indies. The Sabina Park inKingston, Jamaica has not produced a drawn game since 1998 and this one seems to be proving no different. West Indies batted 52 overs in which all they could manage was 196, in reply to which India, almost bullishly, punished a wayward West Indies bowling attack, finishing the opening day on 126/1.

If sensing a possibility of yet another innings defeat was Virat Kohli’s idea of wanting to continue winning, then his side hasn’t put a foot wrong yet. The surface, with all its hue and cry regarding how stingy it is, had no such effect on the Indian top-order. KL Rahul, generally a defensive batsman, reached his 50 at a strike-rate of almost 100, his first to go with two centuries. His partner Shikhar Dhawan, barring his untimely dismissal, looked in no discomfort either. West Indies’ bowling was that erratic on a surface that saw the Indian bowlers run through them.

The inexperience of the line-up of the hosts, triggered by skipper Jason Holder’s decision of batting first, backfired as their top three batsmen fell to pace within the first hour of play. Adding to the misery was their tormentor from the first Test R Ashwin with his second consecutive five-wicket haul of the series.

Reduced to 7/3, West Indies would owe a lot to a counter-attacking knock fromJermaine Blackwood, a supportive innings of resistance from Marlon Samuels and an entertaining cameo from debutant Miguel Cummins in dying stages. Their innings crumbled, yet again, to pace in the first session, and spin in the second.

The morning period belonged to Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, who went on to share four wickets. Samuels and Blackwood led some sort of comeback, but Ashwin broke the promising 81-run stand, removing Blackwood for 62. He orchestrated five of West Indies’ six hits beyond the fence. The Jamaican counter-attacked when the movement from Ishant and Shami seemed difficult to tackle. Partnering him at the other end was Marlon Samuels, who faced 88 deliveries for 37 before batting almost 10 overs to get off the mark.

India only had to wait till the third over to see the back of an otherwise reliant Kraigg Brathwaite when Ishant had him caught at short-leg. His deliveries moved in the air, sometimes jagging back in to the right-hander after pitching. Darren Bravo could survive just one ball, before he was deceived by the same swing, offering a regulation catch to Kohli at second slip. A few audacious swings from opener Rajendra Chandrika followed before he was undone by one that shot up from good length by Shami.

Blackwood was on the verge of registering a third straight blob when an in-dipper from Shami flew inches above the stumps. By then, he and Samuels seemed to have cracked the code to counter the two pacers. The scoring picked up soon after West Indies went past 50, but the introduction of spin paid dividends for Kohli.

Samuels began the afternoon session in belligerent fashion, wading Ishant for three fours in an over and a six over mid-on off Ashwin the next over. But the offspinner retaliated off the very next ball, one that took Samuels’ inside edge and lobbed straight to short-leg. That was the opening Ashwin needed. He followed it with the wicket of Shane Dowrich, who looked in two minds whether to play or leave. India benefitted from a probing spell from Shami to Devendra Bishoo, who was out caught playing a slog sweep. The offspinner soon picked up his 18th five-wicket haul of his career, second of the series with another bad-pad of Holder.

(Inputs: TOI, IANS)