KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – West Indies were fighting to stay alive in the first Test against India after their brittle batting was again exposed on the second day at Sabina Park yesterday.
Resuming the day on 34 for one, West Indies crashed to 173 all out, with opener Adrian Barath top scoring with 64 in his first Test innings since last November.
Behind by 73 runs, West Indies managed to plug away and were rewarded with three wickets as India finished the day on 91, a lead of 164 ahead with three days left in the contest.
Prolific right-hander Rahul Dravid, dropped by captain Darren Sammy at slip when six, was unbeaten on 45 while opener Abhinav Mukund got 25.
Not for the first time in recent history, however, West Indies’ dismal batting grabbed the headlines, as it collapsed in the face of a varied and penetrative India attack.
Seamers Ishant Sharma (3-29) and Praveen Kumar (3-38) finished with three wickets apiece while leg-spinner Amit Mishra (2-51) and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (2-51) each picked up two wickets each to mop up the lower order.
Apart from Barath, Carlton Baugh hit 27 and veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul got 23 but the remainder of the batting struggled.
The rot started early in the day when Ramnaresh Sarwan went without adding to his overnight three, trapped lbw to Sharma to the first ball of the day’s second over.
Barath and Darren Bravo (18) then posted 56 for the third wicket, to ease the pressure on West Indies, as India moved in for the kill.
The right-handed Barath stroked nine classy fours and a six that sailed over wide long-on off Amit Mishra in the leg-spinner’s first over of the day.
Barath was looking to get stuck in when he edged Kumar’s outswinger behind to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni and Bravo, who stroked a pair of beautiful cover-driven boundaries, fell to a catch at the wicket in the seamer’s next over at 95 for four.
Vice-captain Brendan Nash lasted just 11 balls before attempting to work Kumar into the onside and getting a leading edge to be caught by Suresh Raina at third slip for one to leave the Windies on 102 for five.
West Indies then made a fist of it through Baugh and Chanderpaul, in a 45-run, sixth wicket stand. Baugh played positively, striking two fours and a six off 35 balls while Chanderpaul was typically obdurate, labouring 74 balls and hitting two fours.
When Baugh prodded Harbhajan into Murali Vijay’s lap at silly point at 147 for six, however, the Windies collapsed to lose their last five wickets for 26 runs.
Sammy followed a run later, bowled by Sharma for one and Chanderpaul’s vigil finally ended at 152 for eight with a catch close-in off one that bounced from Harbhajan.
Mishra then polished off the innings with the scalps of Fidel Edwards (7) and Devendra Bishoo (4).
West Indies quickly hauled themselves back into the contest when pacer Ravi Rampaul trapped opener Murali Vijay lbw without scoring to the seventh ball of the innings, with one that kept low.
Mukund and Dravid then added 56 to rebuild the innings before the left-handed Mukund edged a cut at leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo into Baugh’s gloves.
In the next over with one run added, VVX Laxman drove a sharp return catch to Sammy but Dravid and Virat Kohli (14 not out) saw out the day in a 34-run, unbroken fourth wicket partnership.