Classy Kohli puts India in command


A magnificent 12th Test century from captain Virat Kohli put India in a strong position at stumps in Antigua on the first day of the four-match series against West Indies.

Kohli opted to bat first after winning the toss at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and the skipper made the most of a flat pitch by scoring a majestic 143 not out to guide the tourists to 302-4 at the close.

The classy Kohli needed only 134 balls to bring up his second-fastest Test century in North Sound, while opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan (84) made his first Test half-century in 11 months before falling to recalled leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo.

Bishoo took 3-108 in his first Test since last October as the Windies bowlers toiled in the sun watched by a sparse crowd, with India making a positive start to their first Test under new head coach Anil Kumble.

It had all started so well for the Windies, who handed a Test debut to spinner Roston Chase, as Shannon Gabriel (1-43) was rewarded for a hostile opening spell when Murali Vijay (7) could only fend a sharp, rising delivery to Kraigg Brathwaite in the slips.

Dhawan punished anything short and wide, also using his feet well against the spinners as India recovered to 72-1 at lunch, but Bishoo struck with his fourth delivery in the first over after the interval to get rid of Cheteshwar Pujara (16).

Kohli strode to the crease full of confidence and the skipper scored freely in a stand of 105 with left-hander Dhawan, who used the pace of a rapid Gabriel delivery to upper cut the quick for six.

The elegant Kohli played some exquisite drives and rocked onto the back foot at every opportunity to score through the leg side as he raced towards another century.

Carlos Brathwaite's frustration got the better of him when he hurled the ball at Kohli following a firm straight drive back at the bowler, prompting the captain to give him a stern glare. 

Kohli responded by hitting the all-rounder for three consecutive boundaries to rub salt into the wounds, but the century stand was broken when Bishoo trapped Dhawan leg before on the stroke of tea.

Bishoo had a third wicket when Ajinkya Rahane (22) was caught at midwicket to leave India 236-4, the key wicket of Kohli was not forthcoming, though, and he raised his bat casually after bringing up three figures with a single off his legs.

Ravichandran Ashwin (22no) and Kohli combined for an unbroken stand of 66 to put India, who recalled Mohammed Shami as one of five specialist bowlers, well on top.