Windies lose just two wickets for 267 as India struggle on opening day of third and final test
Fifties from West Indies' top four batsmen steered them to a comfortable 267-2 at stumps on the first day of the third and final Test against India at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
West Indies' Darren Bravo (right) celebrates after reaching his half
century on Day One of the third Test against India at Wankhede
yesterday as teammate Kirk Edwards looks on. Pic/Suresh KK
It was a shot in the arm for India when the news of not having to deal with Shivnarine Chanderpaul came at the toss. That was quickly followed by Ishant Sharma clocking in excess of 140 kmph in the first over.
However, his fifth ball bounced well short and was collected on the third attempt by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Suddenly, curator Sudhir Naik's promise of "a true wicket" fell flat. The trend continued into the day, but there were the rare balls that took off across the surface with venom.
Both Ishant and debutant Varun Aaron bowled either too straight or strayed down leg on multiple occasions after the Windies won the toss and batted. The openers waited patiently to glance away fine those leg-side gifts. Neither was there any movement for either quickie, nor did they go past the edge but for a few times.
Ironically, whenever either bowled a driveable length, the batsmen were beaten. But, there was lack of penetration. The morning dew meant the outfield was slow, restricting the boundaries hit by the Windies openers to a mere six at the end of 20 overs.
Dhoni was forced to call upon Pragyan Ojha in only the ninth over. There was a bit of turn for him, but it didn't erupt off the surface like it did in the first Test at Feroz Shah Kotla. The young openers, Barath (21) and Brathwaite (18) rocked back and dispatched the odd short stuff from the spinners. Barath especially hit some glorious boundaries off R Ashwin in the 27th over.
West Indies were cruising on 125 for no loss when Ashwin began to create some excitement. It started with Brathwate being dropped by VVS Laxman at backward short leg. Two overs later, Barath read Ashwin's carrom ball and drove it superbly down the ground. Two balls later, Ashwin had him caught behind with a length ball, an off-break that turned and skidded.
Ashwin's next wicket was surrounded by controversy when as the Indians claimed a bat-pad catch. Brathwaite refused to walk initially, the Windies were hopping about on 150-2 nevertheless and India's spinners had their tails up. That was further demonstrated when Ashwin went past the gate, Edwards survived in the 61st over.
The last of the so-called 'half chances' was created in the 71st over when Virender Sehwag nearly had Edwards caught-behind. Thereafter, both Edwards and Darren Bravo came into their own, constructing an unbeaten 127-run partnership en route to personal fifties. Bravo showed more shades of Brian Lara in the way he rocked back and cut Sehwag for a boundary.
The two most promising batsman in the Caribbean islands -- Edwards and Bravo -- took them to stumps without any hiccups. And going by the level of skill and maturity they displayed, it could become tough for the Indians to dislodge them today.