West Indies were looking down the barrel at close of play on Day 2 of the Mumbai Test on Friday. At stumps, the visitors were 43 for three in the second innings after India took a first innings lead of 313 runs. With every wicket that fell, the chance of a second Sachin Tendulkar innings in his 200th and last Test looked bleaker. At stumps, Chris Gayle, a disappointment in this two-match Test series, was batting on 6. Darren Bravo was the last man out for 11. The hapless Caribbeans trail by 270 runs.
India rode twin centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara (113) and Rohit Sharma (111 not out) to finish their first innings at 495, but Day 2 at Wankhede will be remembered for Tendulkar's classy 74. The 40-year-old showed some vintage form but fell short by 26 runs from scoring his 52nd Test century. The way the Caribbeans are batting, even the most die-hard Tendulkar fan will not expect him to walk out with the bat for one last time. West Indies had lost the first Test in Kolkata last week by an innings and 51 runs inside three days. The Mumbai Test is also heading for a similar finish.
India's spin pair Ravichandran Ashwin (2/12) and Pragyan Ojha (1/12) did the damage as West Indies lost wickets due to poor application. Opener Kieran Powell played a rank bad shot and was caught by Mohammed Shami of Ashwin while nightwatchman Tino Best got an unlucky LBW decision against Ojha. The arm ball from Ojha probably would have missed the leg stick. Left-handed Bravo was squared up by a vicious turner and the edge flew to Murli Vijay went to second slip.
West Indies will have a lot of batting to do on Saturday on a wicket which is expected to turn more. The bounce will be tricky too. India look in total command in this Test match.
The first session on Friday was highlighted by Tendulkar's dazzling array of strokes in his brilliant knock of 74. The innings created an ideal launchpad for Pujara to consolidate with a patient century as India reached 413/7 at tea. Starting the day on 38, Tendulkar looked fluent during his 68-minute stay at the wicket on the day. He faced 118 balls, hitting 12 exquisite boundaries. He added 148 runs for the second wicket with Pujara, who hit a responsible 113 en route his fifth Test century. Pujara hit 12 fours in his 167-ball knock.
Virat Kohli also contributed with a quick-fire 57 while in-form Sharma carried on his good work to become the second Indian after Sourav Ganguly to smash back-to-back Test innings tons. Sharma, who struck 10 fours and three sixes, enjoyed a 'life' when he had scored 85. He was caught going for a big stroke, but Shane Shillingford bowled a big no ball, a crime for an off-spinner.
But Mumbai fans, who were left disappointed after Tendulkar missed a deserving ton earlier in the day, were not to be denied this time. Mumbai Indians skipper Sharma, who led Tendulkar in the IPL and the Champions League T20, went on to score his century taking no risks in the nervous nineties. However, on 99, Sharma smashed Marlon Samuels for a six, to bring up his 100. Tendulkar stood up in the team balcony to salute the effort.
Sharma must thank Mohammed Shami Ahmed, who held one end up with some dogged effort. Not a false stroke, Shami played safe and let Sharma take most of the strike. Shillingford was the most successful West Indian bowler taking five for 179 after fellow-spinner Narsingh Deonarine got the prized scalp of Tendulkar on a historic day of cricket.