BRIDGETOWN, (Reuters) – India and West Indies both suffered woeful batting collapses as 13 wickets tumbled on the opening day of the second test in Barbados today.
India’s batting crumbled on two separate occasions as they were bowled for just 201 after tea, while West Indies lost three wickets of their own as they limped to 30-3 at stumps, setting the stage for an intriguing test.
The tourists lost their first four wickets for a meager 38 runs as their top order struggled to come to grips with the extra bounce and pace at the Caribbean’s most lethal pitch, then lost their last six wickets for 46 runs when the tail folded against spin.
But West Indies, already trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, failed to capitalise on their strong start, losing both openers and Darren Bravo to catches behind the stumps.
Only a century partnership from Vangipurappu Laxman and Suresh Raina saved India from an even lower total with the pair putting on 117 for the fifth wicket on a day when ball dominated over bat.
Laxman, a master of saving his team from precarious situations, withstood a ferocious onslaught from the West Indian paceman for a beautifully compiled 85.
He struck 12 boundaries, comprising a mixture of fully bludgeoned drives and pulls, with some delightful, delicate touches.
He looked set for a deserved hundred before he was deceived by promising leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and caught by Adrian Barath at backward point, all but ending India’s hopes of a bigger first innings total.
Raina made 53 but was less assured and composed than Laxman. He also fell to Bishoo, caught in close, but was unhappy with the decision, dropping his bat and appearing reluctant to leave when the umpire’s finger was raised.
Bishoo finished with three wickets, as did fast bowler Ravi Rampaul, who exposed India’s frailty on lively pitches with two impressive spells in the morning session at one of the few international venues where India have never won a test.
Exploiting the extra bounce and moisture in the deck, he claimed three early scalps, including two in three balls, to set the tone for the day, while Darren Sammy claimed the prized wicket of Rahul Dravid, whose second innings century in Jamaica ultimately decided last week’s first test.
Rampaul struck in the second over of the day after West Indies had won the toss and elected to stick the Indians in first, catching Abhinav Mukund by surprise with a delivery that rose steeply.
The ball hit high on the bat and flew to Marlon Samuels at gully, who held a simple catch to send Mukund on his way for one.
Sammy, who had dropped Dravid in the field in Jamaica, gained some revenge when he dismissed him for five with a superb delivery that caught the edge of the bat and presented wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh with the straightforward catch behind.
Then Murali Vijay, who made just 11 off 75 deliveries, departed when he was caught down the legside off Rampaul and Virat Kohli went for a second ball duck when he failed to play a shot at a bouncer that kicked up sharply and brushed his gloves.
India went to lunch at 44-4 but seemed to have recovered when they added 103 runs in the middle session without any further casualties, Laxman reaching half-century off 75 deliveries and Raina passing fifty from 90 balls.
But West Indies reasserted their control at the start of the final session when Bishoo dismissed Raina, triggering the late order collapse that allowed the home side to pad up and start their reply.
West Indies could not have made a worse start with Barath and Lendl Simmons falling in the space of six balls.
Barath went for three, caught by Kohli at gully off Ishant Sharma, then Simmons feathered a catch to Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Praveen Kumar.
Things then went from bad to worse for West Indies when Bravo was dismissed on the penultimate ball of the day, given out caught behind for nine off Abhimanyu Mithun.