THE WEST INDIES bowlers delivered again but their batsmen continue to capitulate cheaply.
Three wickets each by Ravi Rampual, Devendra Bishoo and Fidel Edwards, plus skipper Darren Sammy’s removal of Rahul Dravid for just five saw India dismissed for a modest 201 on a lively Kensington Oval pitch after they were sent in on yesterday’s first day of the second Digicel Test.
But the visitors struck back, leaving the West Indies wobbling on 30 for three at the close as openers Adrian Barath and Lendl Simmons as well as their Trinidadian compatriot Darren Bravo all perished for single digit scores in the final hour of an eventful Tuesday start to a Test match at “The Mecca”, watched by about 3 000 spectators.
India recovered from the early pre-lunch strife of 38 for four, through contrasting half centuries by top scorer V.V.S. Laxman, who skilfully compiled a disciplined 85, embellished with 12 wristy fours in 248 minutes off 145 balls and Suresh Raina, who blossomed from a shaky start to hit seven fours in a knock of 53 off 105 balls.
The rejuvenated Rampaul again set the tone for the Windies’ aggressive bowling display, striking with his third ball which opener Abhinav Mukund (1) fended to Marlon Samuels in the gully.
Sammy introduced himself after just eight overs, replacing Edwards and cracked the Indian “wall” when Dravid snicked an outswinger for wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh to pouch the catch in front of first slip, to leave India on eight for two.
Just when it appeared that Laxman and opener Murali Vijay would survive until lunch, Rampaul, who had an opening burst of 7-4-4-1, was recalled for a solitary over and made a telling double strike.
He dispatched Vijay, who had eked out 11 runs in 111 minutes off 75 balls and Virat Kohli for a “duck” in the space of three balls.
But from 44 for four at lunch, Laxman and Raina, who had started very shakily and looked very uncomfortable to the short ball, carried the total to 147 without further loss at tea as Sammy gave himself an extended bowl.
Laxman started to use the pace of Edwards and Rampaul to execute some drives through the covers and square of the wicket while Laxman was a joy to watch.
In the last over before tea, he twirled his wrists to on-drive Rampaul between mid-wicket and mid-on and then effortlessly straight drove the next ball for another four.
But on resumption, the Windies got a slice of luck after eight runs were added to the tea-time score when umpire Asad Rauf upheld an appeal for a bat-pad catch against Raina by Barath off Bishoo.
Once the 117-run fifth-wicket stand was broken, the last five Indian wickets tumbled for 46 runs to Edwards, who finished with three for 56 off 19 overs and Bishoo, three for 46 off 14. Rampaul did not add to three early wickets, which cost 38 runs in 16 overs.
After going wicketless in his first 12 overs from both ends, Edwards returned for an incisive 7-0-29-3 spell, generating pace and bounce while using the short ball to unsettle the Indian lower order.
He had an anxious wait for his first wicket when umpire Ian Gould signalled no-ball as India’s captain Mahendra Dhoni was caught at mid-on by Shivnarine Chanderpaul for two. But Gould immediately asked for confirmation from the television umpire, Gregory Brathwaite, who ruled that the delivery was legally delivered.
A fired-up Edwards then soften up Harbhajan Singh who fended a devilish bouncer for Barath to take a diving catch, running from short-leg to the other side of the pitch.
Laxman duly reached 8 000 runs in his 122nd Test but got no further when he cut a leg-break from Bishoo, which bounced more than he expected straight to Barath at point.
After Edwards yorked Abhimanyu Mithun for a “duck” and Bishoo drew Kumar out of his crease for Baugh to complete the stumping, the West Indies softly lost their openers, who showed poor technique against the moving ball.
A stylish Barath (3) steered a delivery too close to him into Kohli’s hands in the gully, while Simmons (2) once again played around his pads as he angled the bat to leg and snicked an outswinger from Kumar, who continues to bowl his shirt out of his pants, to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
West Indies suffered a third setback off the day’s penultimate ball when Bravo (9) seemed to hang his bat inside the line to allow a lifting delivery from Mithun to go by but Gould upheld the appeal for caught behind.
India 1st innings
A. Mukund c Samuels b Rampaul 1
M. Vijay c wk Baugh b Rampaul 11
R. Dravid c wk Baugh b Sammy 5
VVS Laxman c Barath b Bishoo 85
V. Kohli c Sammy b Rampaul 0
S. Raina c Barath b Bishoo 53
*+M. Dhoni c Chanderpaul b Edwards 2
H. Singh c Barath b Edwards 5
P. Kumar b Edwards 12
A. Mithun b Edwards 0
I. Sharma not out 1
Extras (b5, lb4, w11, nb6) 26
TOTAL (all out, 68 overs) 201
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Mukund), 2-8 (Dravid),
3-38 (Vijay), 4-38 (Kohli), 5-155 (Raina), 6-167 (Dhoni), 7-183 (Harbhajan), 8-187 (Laxman),
9-189 (Mithun), 10-201 (Kumar).
Bowling: Edwards 19-2-56-3 (nb4, w11), Rampaul 16-3-38-3, Sammy 19-4-52-1,
Bishoo 14-1-46-3 (nb2).
West Indies 1st innings
A. Barath c Kohli b Sharma 3
L. Simmons c wk Dhoni b Kumar 2
R. Sarwan not out 10
Darren Bravo c wk Dhoni b Mithun 9
D. Bishoo not out 0
Extras (w5, nb1) 6
TOTAL (3 wkts, 12 overs) 30
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Barath), 2-5 (Simmons), 3-30 (Bravo).
Bowling: Kumar 6-0-15-1, Sharma 4-2-8-1 (w5), Mithun 2-0-7-1 (nb1).
To Bat: S. Chanderpaul, M. Samuels, +C. Baugh, *D. Sammy, R. Rampaul, F. Edwards.
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: Ian Gould, Asad Rauf
TV umpire: Gregory Brathwaite;
Fourth umpire: Norman Malcolm.
Match referee: Chris Broad