Brathwaite, Edwards shine for WI

Fortunes fluctuated as much as the weather did at the scenic Gangotri Glades on the opening day of the first unofficial four-day Test between India ‘A’ and West Indies ‘A’.

Contrasting innings -- both stunning in their own right -- from Kraigg Brathwaite (92) and Kirk Edwards (91) helped the visitors hold the edge at tea, India fought their way back in the final session, courtesy a stunning spell from Parvez Rasool, to grab the advantage as score board read 264 for five from 90 overs at stumps.

Watched intently by a vociferous crowd of well over four thousand -- skipper Cheteshwar Pujara won the toss and chose to make the most of the first day pitch. His gamble paid off within ten minutes as a delivery from Mohammed Shami sped off the pitch and struck Kieron Powell (0) plumb in front of the stumps with West Indies’ score on three.

As a dejected Powell walked back, skipper Edwards trotted in with his intimidating frame to join Brathwaite in the middle. Having spent a couple of overs more than Edwards, Brathwaite took up the task of scoring, starting with a glorious on-drive off Shami. All along Edwards assumed the role of a sidekick, until Rasool was introduced for the first time in the match.

The off-spinner was brought into the attack in the 23rd over, and after playing out his first delivery with caution, Edwards chose to step out the very next ball and smash it a long way over the long-on boundary. From there on, the Indian bowlers were sent on a leather hunt by Edwards in particular. The 28-year-old was adept in swapping a scalpel for a cudgel, and in doing so, he tore into India’s attack to reach his fifty off 101 balls. While Brathwaite, who was on 33 when Edwards was on 10, was still stuck on 44.

During the entire passage, rain threatened to stop play at least four times. But it remained just a drizzle as play went on unhindered, and much to India’s chagrin the Windies’ duo then went on a rampage to reach 173 for one at tea. 

Edwards returned to the crease with nine runs left for his century but fell soon as Ishwar Pandey’s yorker snuck through his defences and crashed onto the leg-stump. Brathwaite trudged along and looked set to score a ton but he fell on 92, edging Rasool (27-10-60-2) to ’keeper Rohit Motwani, who made a fine diving collection after the ball had ricocheted off his gloves.

Rasool, who was into the 12th over of his 14-over spell, then pulled off a stunning one-handed catch to his left to send Narsingh Deonarine (28) back. Soon after Leon Johnson (10) was trapped in front of the stumps when a delivery from Rajat Paliwal crashed onto his pads to leave the Windies reeling at 237 for five. Chadwick Walton (26 n.o.) and Assad Fudadin (4 n.o.) remained unbeaten at stumps, but Indians would be happy with the damage control measures they adopted to undo the damage inflcited by Brathwaite and Edwards early on in the day.

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