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Dhoni steers India to lead


EZRA STUART in Dominica

Dhoni steers India to lead

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CAPTAIN Mahendra Dhoni navigated India’s ship out of choppy waters to safe harbour as the West Indies’ bowlers toiled to keep afloat in the third and final Digicel cricket Test at Windsor Park yesterday.
Dhoni set sail with the tide changing as India slipped to 172 for five, but by the time he returned to port at the end of the third day unbeaten on 65, his rescue mission had been accomplished as he steered his team to a first innings lead of 104.
India closed the extended third day on 308 for six, replying to the Windies’ modest first innings total of 204 as Dhoni fittingly passed 3 000 Test runs in his 57th match, striking just three boundaries off 109 balls.
Earlier, India, courtesy a maiden Test half-century by opener Abhinav Mukund (62), and the third half-centuries of the series by both V.V.S. Laxman (56) and Suresh Raina (50), weathered the early rough seas.
Early wickets
West Indies jolted India with two early wickets, including the key scalp of Rahul Dravid after play started promptly at 9:30 a.m. with India resuming from eight without loss overnight.
Fast bowler Fidel Edwards struck in the day’s third over, having opener Murali Vijay caught behind for five, while skipper Darren Sammy again accounted for Dravid for five, breaching his defensive prod with a sharp inswinger, which cut back between bat and pad.
But the Windies, who omitted the pacy Kemar Roach for all three Tests against the Indians, were severely handicapped by the illness of strike bowler Ravi Rampaul and began to drift with a depleted bowling attack.
Rampaul only appeared on the field in the last half-hour after staying at the team’s hotel throughout the day, recuperating from a bout of vomiting, leaving the Windies with just three frontline bowlers on a placid pitch, the best for batting in the series.
Not even the presence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit among another supportive 3 000 crowd, could bring more success in the 150-minute morning session as Laxman and Mukund consolidated the innings, taking the score to 102 for four at lunch.
Novice bowler
With no Rampaul, captain Sammy had to use debutant batsman Kirk Edwards, who had never bowled a single delivery in any of his 26 first-class matches, as a fourth bowler. The four-over spell of medium pace from the novice bowler yielded 19 runs.
After lunch, Laxman and Mukund extended their partnership to 98 runs before the latter gave a bat-pad catch to Adrian Barath at short leg off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo. Mukund’s three-hour knock of 62 included five fours off 149 balls.
Laxman was joined by Virat Kohli and they added a further 52 runs for the fifth wicket before both fell within four runs of each other, prompting Sammy to call up veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul for his first bowl in Test cricket since 2007.
Kohli was neatly caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh, standing up to Sammy for 30 and even though he wasn’t happy with the decision, television replays suggested that umpire Richard Kettleborough made the correct ruling.  
Chanderpaul then took the wicket of Laxman, courtesy a stumping by an alert Baugh, who whipped the bails as the batsman lifted his foot after leaving a wide delivery outside the off stump.
The television umpire confirmed the dismissal of Laxman for his third consecutive half-century of the series which spanned 207 minutes and 129 balls and contained three fours.
In the post-tea session, Dhoni and Raina capitalized on some juicy long hops and full tosses served up by Chanderpaul, who was brought back for another bowl as Fidel Edwards and Sammy rested.
The 103-run sixth-wicket partnership was finally broken with the first ball of the second new ball by Edwards, who trapped Raina leg before wicket for an even 50 which came off 103 balls with three fours.
But the West Indies got no further success with Dhoni getting solid support from Harbhajan Singh in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 33 runs.

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