Rain offers aid to struggling Windies

-Harbhajan claims 400th test wicket

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – Illness to Ravi Rampaul almost undermined West Indies, but typically rainy weather was again kind to them, and offered a temporary reprieve in the third and final Test against India yesterday.

Rampaul fell ill, was vomiting, and had to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment, reducing the West Indies’ bowling stocks, after they were dismissed for 204 in their first innings at the regularly scheduled tea time on the second day.

This meant that West Indies captain Darren Sammy had to share the new ball with Fidel Edwards, but the seasonal weather gave the hosts and Rampaul a few more hours to recover, as India reached eight without loss from just four overs, when rain and bad light forced an early close.

Only 80.3 overs out of a possible 180 have been delivered over the first two days of the Test being staged in the Dominica capital for the first time.

Earlier, Carlton Baugh Jr hit the top score of 60, and Darren Bravo made 50, but failed to stop West Indies from another terminal batting meltdown, engineered by Ishant Sharma.

Baugh and Bravo added 59 for the sixth wicket either side of lunch, but Sharma captured five wickets for 77 runs from 21.3 overs to take his tally in the three-match series to 21 wickets.

other West Indies batsman seriously distinguished himself, and Sharma got support in the demolition job from Praveen Kumar with two for 22 from 16 overs, and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who took two for 26 from 15 overs, becoming the 11th bowler to take 400 Test wickets.

Bravo counter-attacked in style with Baugh before he was caught behind off Sharma, stroking eight fours from 134 balls in a little more than 3 ¼ hours of batting.

Sammy struck three fours and one six in 20 from 23 balls, and put on a valuable 41 with Baugh to inch his side closer to the 200-run threshold.

But he was caught at forward short leg for 20 off Harbhajan to trigger a collapse that saw West Indies lose their last four wickets for five runs from 57 deliveries.

Baugh became Harbhajan’s landmark wicket, when he gave himself room to cut a sharply turning delivery from the off-spinner, and was bowled. The diminutive wicketkeeper/batsman struck six fours and one six from 79 balls in a little over 1 ¾ hours.

Tail-enders Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo offered token resistance before Sharma bowled them both off the inside edge following a short break for rain.

Before lunch, West Indies remained under pressure, when two wickets – one of them, the prized scalp of Shivnarine Chanderpaul – set them back on 128 for five.

The weather, which restricted the two sides to just 31.1 overs on the opening day, delayed play until 20 minutes after the regularly scheduled start.

West Indies started steadily from their overnight total of 75 for three, but Chanderpaul, playing in his West Indies record 133rd Test, was caught behind for 23 off Munaf Patel in the first hour.

Marlon Samuels suffered a blow to the helmet early from Patel, and after this never looked settled before Kumar bowled him for nine, when he dragged a delivery into his stumps.

In the closing stages before the interval, Bravo essayed an imperious extra cover drive off Sharma, and Baugh swung off-spinner Harbhajan Singh over square leg for a six to bring the modest crowd alive.

The entertainment continued after lunch, but West Indies then suffered an all-too-familiar batting collapse.

West Indies trail 0-1 in the three-Test series, following a 63-run defeat in the first Test inside four days at Sabina Park in Jamaica, and a draw in the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

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