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First Test: India eye win as West Indies lose opener in second innings

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Antigua: A dominant India left West Indies staring at a possible innings defeat after they were bundled out for 243 to give the visitors a huge first-innings lead of 323 runs in the first cricket Test.

India enforced the follow-on after bowling out West Indies in the final session of day three in 90.2 overs.

At the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, the hosts were placed at 21/1 (13 overs) at stumps in their second innings, still trailing by 302 runs after the visitors had finished their first innings at 566/8 declared.

Returning from a one and a half year injury layoff, Mohammad Shami (4-66) had done the damage before tea, and Umesh Yadav (4-41) continued afterwards, as the hosts were bowled out with 13 overs remaining in the day. But that was after Shane Dowrich (57 not out, 10 fours) and skipper Jason Holder (36) put on 69 runs for the 8th wicket.

They looked good in the middle and kept the scoreboard ticking for the duration of their partnership, with the West Indies’ 200-mark coming up in the 81st over and their 50-run stand coming off 80 balls.

The new ball was taken thereafter, with R Ashwin (0-43) starting but he soon gave way to Yadav and Shami. Dowrich meanwhile got to his 2nd Test half-century off 75 balls, even as runs started flowing owing to the hardness of the new ball.

But it didn’t last long as Yadav finally induced an edge off Holder in the 86th over, caught behind by keeper Wriddhiman Saha. It was his sixth dismissal of the innings and he equalled the Indian record held by both Farokh Engineer and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Yadav then bowled Carlos Brathwaite (0) off the very first ball, as the burly batsman shouldered arms to an incoming delivery. Amit Mishra (2-43) then ended the resistance and bowled Shannon Gabriel (2).

Trailing by 323 runs, the West Indies were asked to follow on, and Ishant Sharma (1-3) managed to remove the in-form Kraigg Brathwaite (2) in the very first over, trapping him LBW. Thereafter, Rajendra Chandrika (9 batting) and Darren Bravo (10 batting) successfully negotiated the remaining overs without further loss.

Earlier, post lunch, it was an improved display by the Indian bowlers who looked to change their line and length from the morning. And the change could be seen almost immediately as Shami started proceedings after the break. He kept both Brathwaite (74 runs) and Marlon Samuels (1) guessing, inducing an edge off the latter in the 49th over.
Four deliveries later, it became a double blow, as Jermaine Blackwood (0) was unable to fend off a sharp rising delivery and was caught at gully by Ajinkya Rahane.

Earlier, post lunch, it was an improved display by the Indian bowlers who looked to change their line and length from the morning. And the change could be seen almost immediately as Shami started proceedings after the break. He kept both Brathwaite (74 runs) and Marlon Samuels (1) guessing, inducing an edge off the latter in the 49th over.
Four deliveries later, it became a double blow, as Jermaine Blackwood (0) was unable to fend off a sharp rising delivery and was caught at gully by Ajinkya Rahane.

Thereafter a short partnership developed between Brathwaite and debutant Roston Chase (23) and they looked comfortable at the crease for the duration of their 47-run stand.

Brathwaite went on to score his 9th Test fifty off 156 deliveries, while the West Indies’ 100-mark came up in the 51st over. Indian skipper Virat Kohli then went on the offensive and played around with his fielding combinations, putting in as many as five close-in catching positions for his pacers.

The trick worked as Yadav broke through, first dismissing Chase who was caught at midwicket with Kohli doing the necessary catching himself. Two overs later, the same aggressive fielding worked as Brathwaite was forced to fend off a short delivery instead of pulling it, and edged behind to keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who affected his fifth dismissal of the innings.

Ashwin could have had a wicket too, towards the end of the session as Shane Dowrich edged to Rahane at slip, but the ball was seen to have bounced on replay. Jason Holder was the other unbeaten batsman.

Earlier, West Indies reached 90/3 at lunch after Brathwaite had defied the Indian bowlers along with Devendra Bishoo (12). The duo put on 38 for the second wicket but more importantly frustrated the visitors by batting out 17.5 overs.

Starting at their overnight score of 31/1, Bishoo looked to stay with his partner for as long as possible, and he was successful in achieving that goal. He frustrated the Indian bowlers for nearly 70 minutes, and in this interim, saw off Ishant, Yadav and Shami without much discomfort.

Ishant as the leader of the attack was a disappointment in particular in this scenario as Kohli looked at him twice to bring about a dismissal.

Shami was the one who troubled Bishoo the most, but couldn’t induce an edge despite going past the bat on many occasions.

At the other end, Brathwaite was happy to leave as many deliveries as possible, and he was obviously helped by the wide deliveries bowled at him by the Indian pacers. When the spin came on, he looked to attack Ashwin and didn’t allow the lead spinner to settle down at all, hitting him for boundaries in successive overs.

While only 29 runs had come in the first hour of play, the 50-mark for the West Indies had come up in the 24th over of the innings. Then the breakthrough finally came as Amit Mishra (1-18) was introduced into the attack, and Bishoo was stumped going for a sweep shot.

Darren Bravo (11) then came to the crease, and he looked solid there albeit only for a short while. Kohli changing around his bowlers too quickly perhaps helped him in this endeavour, particularly the pacers who all bowled short spells from the Sir Curtly Ambrose End. Ishant and Umesh were taken off after one and two over spells respectively, and then Shami came on to bowl.

It seemed as if Bravo would be able to take the West Indies to lunch without any further loss, but he played at a wide outswinging delivery that he didn’t really need to, and ended up edging behind to keeper Saha. Marlon Samuels was the other unbeaten batsman at the crease then, heading into the lunch break, but he was yet to get off the mark.

PTI

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