It has been a Test match of unlikely heroes for West Indies. After Rahkeem Cornwall picked his career-best figures on day 1, seven for 75, it was Shamarh Brooks’ turn to shine with the bat, notching up his maiden Test hundred. Only into the second Test series of his career, like Cornwall, Brooks scored a gutsy 111 off 214 balls keeping West Indies’s innings steady after early jitters in the morning session.
As a result, West Indies managed a lead of 90 after they were 277 all out in the second session of day two in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, which has been hit by heavy air pollution over the past month.
Spinners Cornwall and Roston Chase then took three wickets each to leave Afghanistan tottering at 109 for seven at stumps on day two. The Afghans lead by just 19 runs in their second innings.
Opener Javed Ahmadi made 62 before falling to Chase’s off spin to the final delivery of the day dominated by West Indies, who resumed on 68 for two in response to Afghanistan’s 187.
Cornwall rattled the Afghanistan top-order and improved his match haul to 10 when play finished for the day. Similar to the first innings, his first victim was Ibrahim Zadran in his first spell of the innings. However, the mode of dismissal was completely different. A well set Zadran decided to shoulder arms to a typical off-spinner which pitched and turned in towards the right-hander and rapped him on his front pad right in front of the stumps. Cornwall then struck two more times, once each in his next two overs which also involved a moment of confusion between Ihsanullah and Javed Ahmadi.
Suffering another collapse, Afghanistan fell to 59 for four after a 53-run opening stand with Cornwall’s conventional off-spinners taking centre-stage again. Ahmadi and the debutant, Nasir Jamal took Afghanistan to a 6-run lead before Chase joined the off-spinners’ party picking three wickets in three overs.
Both Cornwall and Chase executed the full length area on the 22-yards. The Test match has seen 24 wickets taken by spinners and all of them have come with full-length deliveries. Cornwall has bowled 88.6 percent of his deliveries at a fullish length while only one of Chase’s 18 deliveries in his three-over spell in the second innings missed the full-length area.
The air quality reading in Lucknow for PM 2.5 particles -- the fine particles of dust that can penetrate lungs and pass into the bloodstream -- was 275 microns per cubic metre, 11 times the World Health Organisation safe limit of 25. But Brooks, who started the day on his overnight score of 19, seemed undaunted as he piled on the runs without getting much support from his fellow batsmen.
The right-hander was involved in two crucial partnerships including an 82-run third-wicket stand with overnight partner John Campbell, who made 55. He then paired with the wicket-keeper batsman, Shane Dowrich guiding West Indies into a lead and gaining an upper-hand in the match. Dowrich scored 42 before being dismissed by the left-arm Chinaman Zahir Khan. By that time, West Indies were ahead by 37 runs.
Brooks carried on to notch up his hundred. He received a big hug from Kemar Roach upon the tail-ender’s arrival to the crease which unarguably highlighted the significance of his knock. He was finally bowled by debutant spinner Amir Hamza who took five wickets with West Indies’ score reading 277. Rashid Khan then picked up the last wicket without any further addition to the visitors’ lead of 90 runs as the umpires called for an early tea.