GROS-ISLET: Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha completed centuries before India s lower order caved in and were dismissed for 353 against the West Indies on the second day of the third Test at the Darren Sammy National Stadium in St Lucia on Wednesday.
In 40 minutes batting to the interval, the home side reached 16 without loss in reply with openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Leon Johnson to resume in the final session of the day.
India missed the opportunity for early success when Lokesh Rahul could not hold on to a diving attempt at second slip when Johnson edged a delivery from Mohammed Shami in the sixth over of the innings.
West Indies seemed resigned to another session of fruitless toil as Ashwin and Saha, who came together just before tea on day one with India struggling at 126 for five, pushed their sixth-wicket stand beyond the 200-run mark after lunch, reaching hundreds along the way.
Reinforcing his affection for Caribbean bowling, Ashwin reached his fourth Test century and second in three matches in the series with a six off off-spinner Roston Chase. All four of his three-figure scores in the traditional format of the game have come against the West Indies.
Saha followed shortly after in getting to the landmark, his first in Test cricket, but fell shortly after for 104. Chasing a wide delivery from Alzarri Joseph, the wicketkeeper-batsman edged a catch to his West Indian counterpart Shane Dowrich to give the debutant fast bowler his third wicket of the innings.
His 104 occupied just over five hours in which he faced 227 deliveries in an innings embellished with 13 fours. Saha s partnership with Ashwin was worth 213 runs, a new Indian record for the wicket in Tests against the West Indies.
In stark contrast to the length defiance of Ashwin and Saha, the lower half of the Indian batting order folded meekly with the last four wickets falling for just one run, Miguel Cummins being the prime beneficiary as the fast-medium bowler claimed his first three wickets in Test cricket after going wicketless on debut in Jamaica a week earlier.
Ashwin was one of his victims, being ninth out when he fended a lifting delivery to Jermaine Blackwood at gully. His generally watchful innings of 118 spanned over six hours and included one six and just six fours over 297 deliveries.