Kingston, Jamaica: Opener Lokesh Rahul showed a lot of composure as he struck his third Test hundred with India sedately reaching 226 for two on the second day of the second cricket Test against the West Indies, here on Sunday.
For Rahul, it was a case of making full use of the opportunity as it is his third Test ton in overseas conditions. He was batting on 131 of 259 balls with 13 boundaries and two sixes, one of which was hit to complete the coveted landmark.
He added 121 runs for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (46, 159 balls), whose subdued batting has been the reason that India could manage only 59 runs in the session in the 26 overs bowled in the morning. Rahul's reticent batting further slowed the progress.
Pujara, who was looked desperate for a fifty, perished while trying to steal a non-existent single in the 73rd over. Roston Chase fielded at square leg and produced a direct hit at to send Pujara back.
After 80 overs, India have taken a lead of 30 runs at Sabina Park, Kingston, after bowling out the hosts for just 196 in their first innings.
Rahul was then joined by skipper Virat Kohli 7 (21b).
Starting at the overnight score of 126/1, the two batsmen looked to play for time, as there was still something in the pitch for the bowlers. However they didn't have any help from the weather, as it was bright and sunny when play began, rendering this a good day to bat.
Even so, the West Indies pacers didn't make things easy for the Indian batsmen. Shannon Gabriel bowled an extended spell, as did Miguel Cummins and the two bowled a nagging line to trouble the duo at the crease.
Gabriel, in particular, tested both Rahul and Pujara, thrice inducing edges as they fell short of the waiting cordon. On three other occasions, he beat the batsmen with his pace and bounce.
Cummins too beat the batsmen with his line and length, getting a couple to rise awkwardly, but the edges didn't come or didn't carry to the fielders as the batsmen looked to play with soft hands.
It obviously affected the run-rate, as only 22 runs came in the first hour of play, with Pujara taking 35 deliveries to get off his overnight score of 18*.
Finally, in the second hour of play, things started moving along as Chase and Devendra Bishoo were deployed. The 150-mark came up in the 52nd over and the duo brought up their 50-partnership off 141 deliveries.
Soon enough, after being patient through the morning, Rahul hit out in the 56th over and deposited Chase for a six over long-on, and brought up his hundred off 182 balls. His previous two hundreds were scored in 2015, coming against Australia (Sydney) and Sri Lanka (Colombo).
In doing so, he notched up the highest score for an Indian opener playing his very first innings in the West Indies, beating Ajay Jadeja's 97 (1996), Shikhar Dhawan's 84 (2016) and Sunil Gavaskar's 65 (1971).
At the other end, Pujara struck two boundaries to break the shackles and finally got his strike-rate going, as India went into the lunch break in consummate control of this match.