WI on brink
KOLKATA – West Indies were left battling to save the second Test yesterday after V.V.S. Laxman and skipper MS Dhoni plundered centuries on the second day to put India in command.
Laxman’s love affair with Eden Gardens continued as the Hyderabad-born player struck his fifth hundred at the venue, 176 not out, while Dhoni slammed a ferocious 144, propelling India to a massive 631 for seven.
The young Indian bowlers then took over where their batsmen left off on a day when around 15 000 spectators came to watch the game played in overcast conditions.
Pacer Umesh Yadav sent back Adrian Barath for one off the eighth ball of the innings while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin got rid of the other opener Kraigg Brathwaite for 17, leaving West Indies 34 for two.
Kirk Edwards, on 12, and Darren Bravo, four, were leading the Windies fightback when insufficient light forced the day’s play to be called off 52 minutes early with a dozen scheduled overs remaining. The visitors are now 597 runs behind India.
Resuming the day on 346 for five, India tore into the Windies bowling to erase any hope the visitors had of regaining control of the encounter.
Laxman, resuming on 73, was his sublime self, counting 12 fours in an innings requiring 280 balls and lasting six-and-a-half hours. It was his fifth hundred at the venue.
He reeled off several typically artistic shots and reached his 17th hundred in 129 Test matches with a boundary past mid on, off West Indies skipper Darren Sammy (2-132).
The landmark came in 219 minutes off 157 balls with nine boundaries – 75 minutes into the first session.
In contrast, Dhoni pounded the hapless West Indies attack, striking characteristic sledgehammer blows to notch up ten fours and five sixes off just 175 balls in three hours at the crease.
Dhoni and Laxman shared a huge 224-run seventh-wicket stand that came to an end shortly after tea when the wicketkeeper-batsman’s thick edge off pacer Kemar Roach (2-106) was taken by Carlton Baugh behind.
The Indian skipper had lived a charmed life, however, twice caught behind off no-balls from Roach when he was 13 and 16.
A tentative Yuvraj Singh was the only wicket of the morning session when he fell for a breezy 25 off 35 balls with five fours after adding an even 50 for the sixth wicket with Laxman.
The left-hander began the day with a boundary off Roach’s first ball of the day but looked uncomfortabe against the short ball as he repeatedly edged and even took a blow from speedster Fidel Edwards on the body.
He was eventually out lbw playing across the line to Sammy.
When Dhoni declared three overs into the post-tea session, West Indies were immediately under pressure when Barath was squared up and edged seamer Umesh Yadav to Virender Sehwag at second slip with the score on three.
Brathwaite lasted just over half an hour at the crease, striking two fours before he was adjudged caught at short leg by Guatam Gambhir off Ashwin. (CMC)