Indians hit back to stay even

Indians hit back to stay even

Dhonis pace trio strikes it rich as West Indies stumble to 98 for five

Indians hit back to stay even

Many other sides would have slipped into a state of panic after being bundled out for a modest total 201, but India made a strong-minded response, plucking five West Indian wickets for 98 runs when the skies opened up to stop the proceedings after 37.3 overs on the second day of the second Test on Wednesday.

The grit and flair of the VVS Laxman-Suresh Raina combine and their 117-run fifth-wicket partnership had helped India cross the 200-run mark, and the visitors needed a forceful effort to make amends for a sub-par effort with the bat.

Like he has been doing throughout this Test series, Ishant Sharma provided the initial spark, jettisoning Adrian Barath, whose edgy stay ended with a snick to Virat Kohli at slips.           

Praveen Kumar has been the surprise package from the Indian ranks. The Uttar Pradesh medium-pacer tied the West Indian openers down with a nagging spell, and Lendl Simmons grew impatient after a while. The right-hander played a huge heave off Praveen, only to edge the ball to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the wickets.

The pitch offered pace and bounce in good measures and assisted the Indian pace bowlers, and soon A Mithun, the third seamer in the Indian ranks, joined the wicket-takers’ list, capturing the big wicket of Darren Bravo. West Indies ended the day at 30 for three, and it was a just reflection of the effort and spirit of the Indian bowlers.

Despite those setbacks on the first evening, the West Indians began the day confidently after a 45-minute delay due to rain and wet ground conditions. But once play started, overnight batsmen Ramnaresh Sarwan and Devendra Bishoo, a handy lower-order batsman, tackled the Indian bowlers quite easily.

Dhoni was undeterred in his aggressive intent as he employed an eight-man cordon, and the result came immediately. Bishoo snicked a throat-high delivery from Ishant to Kohli, sixth in a line of thickly populated slip cordon. It was the kind of opening India needed, and they pressed on for further success under the persistent Ishant.

The Delhi pacer has gain in stature on this tour, assuming the role of the pace spearhead with ease in the absence of Zaheer Khan. He has used his pace judiciously, concentrating on each batsman’s strengths and weaknesses to outfox him, and it indeed was pleasing to see him putting a few bad months behind him to come up with a searing spell.

Success was not far for Ishant. The lanky pacer tested Sarwan with a series of deliveries just outside the off-stump, but it was all a mere ruse as Ishant finally nailed him with a fuller ball.

Sarwan has not been in the best of form of late, especially in the Tests, and the talented right-hander committed the cardinal mistake of staying deep in the crease while trying to nudge the ball to the leg-side. The ball thudded into his pads as his foot movement was minimal, and umpire Ian Gould has little hesitation in raising the dreaded finger.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels negotiated a searching spell by Ishant and Praveen in the post-lunch session to snap the Indian charge temporarily. Samules, who is making a return to the Test arena after a long gap, looked all at sea against the bounce of Ishant and the movement of Praveen.

He hung in there to ensure that the West Indies would not be pegged back further, but the morning firmly belonged to India.

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