ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – West Indies were already facing the prospect of fighting to save the third Test after India took control on the third day with a strong batting performance at Windsor Park yesterday.
Despite striking key blows at pivotal moments throughout the day, West Indies’ depleted bowling attack could not contain India,
and the visitors were well poised at 308 for six at the close – a lead of 104 on first innings.
Without the services of Ravi Rampaul who continued to suffer with a stomach bug, West Indies were short on bowling options and India’s batsmen capitalised.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni stroked an unbeaten 65, opener Abinhav Mukund hit his maiden Test half-century in getting 65, while VVS Laxman (56) and Suresh Raina added (50), as India batted in partnerships.
Skipper Darren Sammy claimed two for 48 with speedster Fidel Edwards finishing with two for 80.
India were under pressure early in the day at 18 for two when they lost two wickets inside the first hour, but three strong partnerships rebuilt the innings.
Mukund and Laxman posted 98 for the third wicket before Laxman and Virat Kohli (30) added another 52 for the fourth wicket.
When India lost two quick wickets prior to tea, Dhoni and Raina pulled their side around with a stand of 103 for the sixth wicket.
Resuming at eight without loss, Murali Vijay (5) went in the day’s third over when he pushed tentatively at a full length delivery from the probing Edwards and nicked a catch behind to Carlton Baugh.
Three overs later, Rahul Dravid had his defence breached and was bowled by Sammy for five, leaving India in a spot of bother.
Mukund, who stroked five fours off 149 balls, then joined forces with Laxman to guide India to lunch at 102 for two.
The left-handed Mukund pressed on after lunch, gathering successive boundaries off Edwards’ second over but popped a catch to Adrian Barath at forward short leg off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, just when he seemed set to move into high gear.
Laxman, who faced 129 balls and hit three fours, continued to blunt the Windies attack in partnership with Kohli who played freely in stroking two fours off 53 balls.
Cruising at 168 for three, India lost both batsmen in the space of 16 balls with four runs added. Kohli tickled a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Baugh off Sammy and with tea in sight, the unflappable Laxman perished at the hands of part-time spinner Shiv Chanderpaul, smartly stumped by Baugh in freakish circumstances.
Laxman left alone a wide delivery but raised his back foot and Baugh quickly whipped the bails off.
The Windies’ hopes of making inroads into the lower order were quickly wiped out with the century stand between Dhoni and Raina.
Dhoni hit three fours off 109 balls while the left-handed Raina hit an even fifty off 103 balls before falling lbw to Edwards off the first delivery with the new ball.
The dismissal proved to be the Windies last success of the day as Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh (12 not out) steered India to the close with a 33-run, unbroken stand.