India fought back superbly with the ball putting West Indies on the backfoot at 30 for 3 by the completion of the opening day’s play in the Second Digicel Test at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. This was after India batting first after losing the toss was bundled out for 201. VVS Laxman played a special knock and along with Suresh Raina pulled off a terrific partnership which rescued India from getting bowled out to a much lower total.
Toss and Teams :
West Indies won the toss and asked India to bat first on a damp wicket under overcast conditions. The pitch traditionally has been offering pace, bounce and seam movement at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown where India is yet to register a Test win! Both sides made a change each to their line-ups. The hosts replaced Vice-Captain Brendan Nash with Marlon Samuels. Carlton Baugh was elevated as the deputy of Sammy. India opted for a third pacer in Abhimanyu Mithun in the place of leggie Amit Mishra. Mithun got the nod following the elbow injury to Munaf Patel.
Tale of the Morning Session :
Young opener Abhinav Mukund (1 from 9 balls) failed to get going for a third time in this series and this time he got out in the 2nd over itself, helplessly fending off a nasty lifter from Rampaul into the hands of gully. First Test centurion Rahul Dravid (5 from 21 balls) tried to battle it out but got a beauty in the 11th over from Sammy which kicked up out of length to force the right hander to edge it behind. India was going nowhere at 8 for 2!
Just when opener Murali Vijay seems to be looking at par, he lost his wicket minutes before lunch when he gloved a rising delivery from Rampaul around the rib cage which was caught down the legside by the keeper. Vijay fought hard lasting 75 balls but only managing to score 11 leaving India at 38 for 3 in the 26th over. Two balls after his exit, Virat Kohli gloved a rising delivery from Rampaul which was caught overhead by Sammy at gully. Kohli was gone for a 2-ball duck as he tried to drop his wrists down to a rising delivery which followed him to smack the gloves. At Lunch, India was at a disastrous 44 for 4 in 27 overs with VVS Laxman on 23 and Raina yet to open his account.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
It needed a great innings if India had to come out of such a hopeless situation on a wicked wicket. VVS Laxman stood up to the occasion and found a right partner in Suresh Raina who did a spectacular rearguard action in the first Test with Harbhajan. It was another fighting stand put up by Raina, this time with VVS Laxman who just looked comfortable at any lengths and deliveries dished out to him. Raina blossomed in his company and the duo did the right thing with a mix of caution and aggression which kept the scoreboard moving atlast!
Both Laxman and Raina took control of the proceedings right through the afternoon session and India went to Tea at a solid looking 147 for 4 in 53 overs with Laxman on 69 which was his 50th Test fifty and Raina on 52.
Tale of the Final Session :
The brilliant 5th wicket stand for India was broken immediately after Tea with Umpire Asad Rauf giving a poor bat pad decision to send Suresh Raina back to the pavilion. Suresh Raina departed after a 105-ball 53 which contained 7 fours before he went back in a flick off Devendra Bishoo and the ball had beaten the bat and flew off the thighpad straight to shortleg. It was an end to a 117-run partnership which lifted India to 155 for 5. Skipper MS Dhoni (2 from 13 balls) let himself and the team down when he chipped his flick shot off Fidel Edwards in the air to mid on in the 59th over. Around four overs later, Harbhajan Singh was caught brilliantly by Adrian Barath who lunged towards silly point from shortleg to take a superb catch with the right hander fending off a nasty lifter from Edwards.
In the 64th over, Laxman was out after a classy 85 (from 146 balls with 12 fours) when Bishoo extracted plenty of bounce in a leg break which forced a cut shot to go in the air and straight to cover point. In the next over, Abhimanyu Mithun (0) got a deflection off the pad onto the stumps to a yorker from Edwards and the last wicket fell when Praveen Kumar got stumped out after getting beaten in a slog against a leg break from Bishoo. India got bowled out for 201 in 68 overs with Edwards, Rampaul and Bishoo all taking three wickets each.
West Indies batsmen had an hour or so to handle before the close of play. It was a bad start for them as Ishant got rid of Adrian Barath (3 from 17 balls) slicing a drive low into the hands of Kohli at gully in the 4th over. In the very next over, Praveen Kumar bowled a juicy late outswinger which got Lendl Simmons (2 from 10 balls) edging an off drive to the keeper. And just prior to the close of play, infact in the penultimate ball, Abhimanyu Mithun got the wicket of the left handed Darren Bravo. The wicket came through a poor decision from Ian Gould with Bravo (9 from 21 balls) tucking his bat behind to avoid a short of length delivery which seamed away but it was mistaken as a thin edge by the Umpire. West Indies finished at 30 for 3 in 12 overs with Sarwan on 10* along with nightwatchman Bishoo (0*).