India on top as West Indies look to delay inevitable
India had amassed a mammoth 631 for seven declared in their first essay, and then rode on Pragyan Ojha`s four-wicket haul to take a massive lead. But the West Indies then launched a spirited fightback riding on half centuries from opener Adrian Barath (62) and Kirk Edwards (60). Darren Bravo (38, 84b, 1×4, 3×6) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (21, 40b, 3×4) were the two unbeaten batsmen at the crease at the close of play on an eventful third day.
The penultimate day`s proceedings will once again begin 30 minutes earlier (8.30am) to make up for the lost time because of poor light on day two. The visitors had two contrasting batting displays on Wednesday. First, they batted like school kids to concede a huge lead, their biggest first-innings deficit since 1930 when they fell behind England by 563 runs, but in the second essay they frustrated the Indians with a dogged approach. India still have a slim chance of bettering their biggest victory of innings and 239 runs, achieved against Bangladesh in Dhaka (2007). India`s biggest margin of win over West Indies is by innings and 112 runs in Mumbai in 2002.
Resuming at 34 for two, West Indies batted poorly in the morning session to straightway hand over the advantage to the Indians. The West Indies showed their inability to play big knocks as their first innings lasted only 48 overs. They lost eight wickets in the 36 overs bowled in the first session on Wednesday. Left-arm spinner Ojha claimed four for 64 and gave the hosts their first breakthrough this morning, while pacer Umesh Yadav impressed with three for 23.
Off-spinner R Ashwin took two for 49 as India took their second highest lead after the 492 versus Bangladesh in 2007. Eight wickets fell for the addition of just 119 runs in the two-and-half hour first session. After being made to follow-on, West Indies lost their first wicket in the second innings for 23 when Yadav dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite (9).
However, the visitors overcame the early blow by showing positive intent with the batsmen attacking the Indian bowlers, the mountain of runs in arrears notwithstanding. Young opener Barath, making a comeback after missing most part of the Bangladesh tour and the opening Test, looked compact as he completed his second half-century against India and third overall. Giving him company was Edwards as West Indies scored more than four runs an over to race to 63 for one in 15 overs.
Edwards slammed Ojha for consecutive boundary and a six over long-on as the duo put on 93 runs for second wicket. Barath got out shortly after tea but Edwards remained defiant to complete his second half-century as the Windies frustrated the Indian bowlers. Edwards also had a 45-run third wicket stand with Darren Bravo. In the second essay, Ishant Sharma was the most successful India bowlers taking two wickets, as the Windies kept their composure against the spin duo of Ojha and Ashwin.
Earlier in the first innings, once Chanderpaul got out for a rare one-digit score (4) against India, playing across the line to Ashwin, it was just a matter of time. Dhoni had made a smart change bringing in Aswhin in place of Ojha. After Chanderpaul`s departure, wickets fell in a heap. Ojha was not afraid to give the ball a flight, at the same time maintaining a tight line and length. Bravo played a good length Yadav ball, which took an inside edge of his bat to hit the off-stumps, ending a 46-run partnership with Samuels.
Yadav then bowled Samuels with a beautiful 140-plus kph ball that angled in to uproot the his middle stumps. Skipper Darren Sammy tried to counterattack the Indian bowling, lofting Ojha over his head for a six. But in the very next ball, he was beaten completely, and Dhoni did the rest. Kemar Roach then ran himself out when he jumped out of the crease to back up Carlton Baugh who played straight on to Ojha.
The ball took an impact from the Indian spinner to crash on to the stumps with the non-striker midway into the strip. Baugh was plumbed in a typical Ojha fashion with the ball hitting the wicketkeeper below the knee roll as Windies lost two in as many balls.
Ojha gave the finishing touches, wiping out the tail by trapping Fidel Edwards. Electing to bat, India had declared their first innings at 631 for seven in the post-tea session of day two on Tuesday before they pushed West Indies to 34 for two after bad light suspended play 50 minutes ahead of the scheduled time.
For India, VVS Laxman remained unbeaten on 176 (280b, 12×4), Dhoni struck a belligerent 144 (175b, 10×4, 5×6) before Rahul Dravid slammed a fluent 119 (207b, 9×4, 2×6). India lead the three-Test series 1-0 after their five-wicket win in the opening match in Delhi.