Ishant scalps six as India take slender lead

Ishant scalps six as India take slender lead

Visitors reach 20 for no loss at tea

Ishant scalps six as India take slender lead

Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the last recognised West Indian pair, resisted the ambitious Indian bowlers resolutely, adding 77 runs for the sixth wicket after rain and wet ground conditions delayed the proceedings on the third day of the second Test here on Thursday. But the West Indies still failed to sneak ahead of India, getting bundled out for 190, conceding a lead of 11 runs. India reached 20 for no loss in their second innings for an overall lead of 31 when another round of rain forced an early tea.

Resistance built on an unflappable temperament is second nature to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, but the fighting instincts shown by Samules was indeed a surprise. On countless occasions, he was beaten by the pace of Ishant Sharma and movement of Praveen Kumar. Samuels, however, hung in there, showing the kind of resilience that had earned him a red hand-kerchief from former Australian skipper Steve Waugh nearly a decade back.

Sometimes, long and constant gaps in the passage of play can thwart the concentration of batsmen. Chanderpaul and Samuels were precisely in such a situation in this Test, but they seldom looked in trouble or unsettled.

When Harbhajan Singh was introduced, the duo was assured in their footwork, judging the length to perfection. Here, Samuels once again deserved a lot of credit for negating the spin and bounce of the off-spinner.

The burly West Indian was in all sorts of trouble against Harbhajan and leg-spinner Amit Mishra in the one-day series, often unsure against the spin. In the limited over games, he resorted to an all-out attack method to cover up his frailities. 

So, the inclusion of Samuels in the Test side, in the place of vice-captain Brendon Nash, was viewed with a bit of suspicion as to how he would react to Harbhajan.

But the Jamaican erased those doubts staying in the middle for 248 minutes, and the ability he showed to put behind some disturbing moments when the ball beat his bat was quite remarkable. Ishant, who completed 100 wickets in Tests, struck him once on the helmet, and there was a chance the batsman could have been a tad rattled. But not Samuels!

Encouraged by the extra bounce and a poor response from Samuels, the Delhi pacer, who picked up a career-best 6-55, pitched another one short, and the expected natural reaction by the batsman was to leave the ball safely to wicketkeeper. But Samuels lashed on the cherry fiercely to send it to the ropes for a boundary, and it was a strong statement of intent of the batsman and the team. Chanderpaul, at the other end, was his usual pragmatic self, tackling all comers with a broad willow and precise footwork. He was the best West Indian batsman on view against Ishant. From a West Indian perspective, the Indian pacer was a trouble-creator with his pace and bounce, but the Guyanaese player conjured all his experience to nullify the effect of Ishant.

West Indian fans could not have been blamed for hoping to see another Chanderpaul master-class, but a moment of madness spelt doom. A picture of concentration till then, Chanderpaul opted for a pull off A Mithun, but only managed to drag the ball back on to his stumps. Big strike for India!

Once Chanderpaul departed Samuels struggled to find a stable partner, as India through Ishant ripped apart the late order to snatch a slender lead.

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