West Indies despite the absence of their main batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul put up an impressive show on the first day of the Third and Final Test at Mumbai with a total of 267 for 2. All the four batsmen who played in the middle for the West Indies struck solid half centuries to justify Skipper Darren Sammy’s decision to bat first after winning the toss on a sunny day at the Wankhede Stadium.
Both the sides made a couple of changes to their line-up going into this last Test. West Indies had to do without Shivnarine Chanderpaul as he was struggling with a calf muscle strain. His place was taken by the young left-handed Kieran Powell. Ravi Rampaul returned back to the side replacing Kemar Roach. India brought in Virat Kohli in the absence of Yuvraj Singh who was dropped by the selectors. The biggest change though was that of Varun Aaron coming in for Umesh Yadav who did nothing wrong in the series so far. MS Dhoni stated that Umesh Yadav was being rested and with that it was a big opportunity for India’s fastest bowler Varun Aaron to make his Test Debut!
West Indies were off to a slow start but the openers did exceedingly well to see through the first half hour. Barath and Brathwaite lasted the distance in the entire morning session to take their side to 80 for 0 in 30 overs. Both batsmen got their respective fifties after the lunch break and it took the 53rd over for India to finally get their first wicket. Adrian Barath (62 from 148 balls with 8 fours) was the man to depart as he got a bad pad edge to a kicking off break from Ashwin which lobbed up to be taken by MS Dhoni infront of the shortleg fielder. The young openers for West Indies put up a solid stand of 137 for the first wicket.
R Ashwin struck again just a few overs later when he had a similarly tossed up off break which spun in and kicked off to take a bat pad edge to shortleg, this time from Kraigg Brathwaite (68 from 184 balls with 8 fours). A collapse looked to be on the cards again for West Indies but the pair of Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo confidently took their side forward without any trouble. They first saw through the afternoon session safely at 161 for 2 in 61 overs.
The final session belonged completely to West Indies as the pair of Edwards and Bravo accelerated their scoring to put away the bad deliveries for runs. There was just one real opportunity that came India’s way when Bravo edged a straighter one from Ojha which was put down by Dravid at slip. Even the second new ball which was taken in the 85th over didn’t trouble the third wicket pair as West Indies cruised to 267 for 2 in 91 overs. Kirk Edwards struck 10 fours in an unbeaten 65 (from 117 balls) while Darren Bravo scored 57* with 7 fours (in 98 balls).
India’s best bowler of the day was R Ashwin as he got the ball to turn and bounce. Debutant Varun Aaron was economical with 0 for 47 in 16 overs but was often too short. He didn’t quite clock the express pace that often but in the afternoon got to around 146 kmph. Surpisingly, Ishant Sharma bowled a lot quicker than Varun Aaron on a consistent basis.
The pitch at the Wankhede Stadium had a traditional reddish brown look to it. The track promises to have good amount of bounce although on the uneven side and the spinners could dictate terms from the fourth day onwards. There was just little bit of seam movement on offer from the pitch.