The First Digicel Test between West Indies and India at the Sabina Park in Kingston is all set for an exciting finish on the fourth day’s play! The hosts need 195 more runs while India need to take 7 wickets to take the 1-0 lead in the Series. West Indies fought back strongly to finish at 131 for 3 chasing a difficult target of 326 which was mainly because of a great century from Rahul Dravid.
Tale of the Morning Session :
Resuming Day 3 at 91 for 3 in 41 overs, Windies got a much needed early breakthrough in the fourth over of the morning when overnight batsman Virat Kohli (15 from 54 balls) was caught gloving down the legside to the keeper to a rising delivery from Fidel Edwards which ended a 43-run partnership with Dravid. Next man in was a confident Suresh Raina who provided stability at his end and in the process helped India to stretch the lead. By the 63rd over when Suresh Raina was given caught down the legside at leg slip in an attempted sweep shot but not before putting up a valuable 48 runs for the 5th wicket. Raina chipped in with 27 from 53 balls with 3 fours.
Skipper MS Dhoni joined Dravid and showed his intentions of an attacking gameplay to try and take the game away from Windies. The Indian Skipper struck a straight six and a boundary before he uppishly cut a bouncing leg break from Devendra Bishoo straight into the hands of cover point. Dhoni scored a run-a-ball 16 and India slipped to 166 for 6 in 67 overs at lunch with Dravid moving onto 69 and the lead to 239.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
Rahul Dravid got another useful partnership, this time with Harbhajan Singh after lunch. Harbhajan lasted 31 balls scoring only 5 but helped Dravid to add up 17 more runs to the lead before he shuffled far too across in a flick shot to miss a Sammy inswinger for an lbw in the 75th over. Praveen Kumar was sent back for a 2-ball duck getting clean bowled by a full length Sammy inswinger which defeated a flick shot.
India at 183 for 8 was supposed to fold up quickly but Amit Mishra perhaps wanted more runs to defend when he comes up to bowl in the West Indian second innings. Along with Dravid, he batted out nicely to keep the bowlers at bay. Even the second new ball couldn’t finish things quickly and Mishra managed to help Dravid to add as many as 56 runs for the 9th wicket! Rahul Dravid got to superb 32nd Test century as well and India’s lead moved beyond 300! Amit Mishra (28 from 60 balls with 4 fours) was ultimately dismissed in the 92nd over when his upper cut off Sammy flew into the hands of thirdman. Around three overs later, a tired Dravid went for a slog sweep but only to top edge Bishoo towards mid on to end the Indian innings.
Rahul Dravid was the last man out after a heroic knock of 112 from 274 balls with 10 fours and a six. For the West Indies, Devendra Bishoo and Darren Sammy captured four wickets each as India got bowled out for 252 in 94.5 overs.
Tale of the Final Session :
The new ball wasn’t doing a lot for Praveen and Ishant and that was enough for the West Indian openers to feel confident about their job. Both Barath and Simmons surprisingly had an easy stay in the middle and their opening stand was neutralizing atleast the first innings lead of India in notime! Just when Barath (38 from 36 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes) was looking dangerous, he threw his wicket away slashing at a wide outswinger from Praveen in the 11th over to get a thick edge which was snapped up overhead by Raina at third slip. Barath put up 62 runs for the first wicket in just 11 overs.
Ishant Sharma who had a bad first spell returned back and changed the game with a deadly double strike. First he got rid of Sarwan cheaply after the right hander jabbed hard at a good length delivery almost off the leading edge and a thick edge was stunningly caught by the diving Virat Kohli flying to his left at gully! Sarwan fell for a 2-ball duck! In the 16th over, Ishant produced a magical leg cutter to clean up the off stump of a well set Lendl Simmons (27 from 41 balls with 3 fours and a six) who was shaping up to flick it to the onside.
Despite losing three wickets, West Indies didn’t go into a shell and their new batting pair of Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul played shots freely whenever there was an opportunity. Bravo especially was aggressive scoring an unbeaten 30 from 67 balls with 6 fours while Chanderpaul remained unbeaten on 24 from 52 balls with 3 fours. The two left handers carried the hosts safely to 131 for 3 in 33 overs by the close of play on Day 3.
Harbhajan Singh seemed to be the most dangerous bowler particularly against the left handers while India would be thanking Ishant Sharma for his speedy bowling which resulted in two crucial wickets.