KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Fast bowler Fidel Edwards grabbed a four-wicket haul in his first Test in two years as West Indies managed to subdue India’s batting juggernaut on the opening day of the first Test here yesterday.
Opting to bat first, India were dismissed for 249 and West Indies had responded with 34 for one at the close at Sabina Park, with Lendl Simmons falling for three to a catch at short leg off seamer Ishant Sharma.
Adrian Barath was unbeaten on 26 at the close, having battled unconvincingly for 72 balls.
Barbadian Edwards, kept out since May 2009 with a serious back injury, finished with four for 56 to lead the attack that saw seamer Ravi Rampaul claim three for 59 and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, three for 75.
Suresh Raina slammed a top score of 82 while Harbhajan Singh was equally attacking with 70, as they rescued India from a shaky position of 85 for six with a cameo, 146-run, seventh wicket stand that put the innings back on course.
West Indies were on top from early when Rampaul removed both openers to leave India struggling on 30 for two.
He got the breakthrough in the day’s fourth over when Murali Vijay was caught at point by Bishoo for eight, driving uppishly.
Abhinav Mikund spent 41 testing balls over 11 before playing on to Rampaul and losing his leg stump at 30 for two, as India declined.
The experienced duo of Rahul Dravid (40) and VVS Laxman (12) added 34 precious runs for the third wicket, to restore some order to the innings and keep West Indies bowlers at bay.
But Bishoo struck a crucial blow at 64 for three when he removed Laxman to a catch at slip by captain Darren Sammy as the right-hander drove at a leg-break and Edwards then struck with what proved to be the final ball before lunch, when he had Virat Kohli caught at the wicket for four as he nicked one that seamed.
On 69 for four at lunch, India lost two wickets in the first 17 balls on resumption to plunge even further into strife.
Dravid, resuming on 30, dispatched two beautiful drives off the front and back foot off Bishoo in the second over after lunch, but drove at the final ball of the over to be caught at slip by Sammy.
Captain MS Dhoni then lunged forward to the second ball he faced – one that bounced – and he could only prod a catch to Lendl Simmons in the cordon, to depart without scoring.
Raina and Harbhajan then flayed the bowling to all parts of the ground, as West Indies lost the plot in the face of counter-attacking batting.
Harbhajan’s first three scoring shots were all boundaries and Raina took his cue, gathering sweetly timed cover-driven boundaries off Bishoo who proved expensive and was pulled from the attack.
Surviving a run out chance when 25, the left-handed Raina hit 15 fours off 115 balls while Harbhajan matched him with 10 fours and a six over long-on off Bishoo in an over that cost 17 runs.
With West Indies reeling at tea as India fought back to 219 for six, Edwards rescued the hosts when he removed Harbhajan in the fourth over after the interval.
Attempting to fetch a head-high bouncer from outside off-stump, the big-hitting right-hander skied a catch for Bishoo to run around from square leg and complete an outstanding two-handed diving catch.
Harbhajan’s dismissal opened the floodgates as India collapsed, losing their last four wickets for 15 runs.
Raina was last out, swinging Rampaul to deep square leg as he tried to up the tempo in search for his second Test century.