The 3rd Test Match at St.Kitts is turning out to be another exciting one with India having to bat out the last day to save it. West Indies have ended Day 4 with a lead of 332 runs in their second innings and their tactics have looked rather strange. In the 24 overs that they have batted in their 2nd innings they could score just 113 runs which means that their current lead isn’t enough and they might have to bat for about half an hour tomorrow morning before declaring. Just another 98 overs are remaining in this Test Match and Windies require 10 wickets to take to win this match which isn’t going to be that easy. India have to bat really well to save this match and they cannot afford to make too many mistakes tomorrow.
Tale of the Morning Session
India received a big jolt in the second over of the day’s play itself as Rahul Dravid was given out lbw off Jerome Taylor for 22. It was the first time that Brian Jerling had given an lbw decision as a Test Umpire. Dravid who played half cock was beaten by one that nipped back around the offstump and it was a fair decision although Dravid was surprised that an lbw decision was actually given by this Umpire. Just after another nine deliveries, Taylor struck once again this time with the wicket of Yuvraj Singh who got a lovely good length delivery that angled in and shaped away to find the outside edge and if that wasn’t worst enough, the visitors lost another wicket in the same over which was two balls later. It was Mohammad Kaif who was given out leg before by Brian Jerling after getting rapped up on the backfoot around the legstump. Kaif did make the mistake of shuffling across the stumps, but the ball would have clearly gone down the legs. It was now a different story altogether in this Test Match and Jerome Taylor had done really well in igniting the match with his triple blow. Both Yuvraj and Kaif were out without troubling the scorers. Laxman was a mere spectator at the other end and he was then joined by Dhoni. Both batsmen did get the outside edges which hardly carried to the slip fielders. Dhoni was becoming very confused about the situation and he tried his best to counter the good bowling by moving around the crease. To one particular delivery from Collymore, he had moved across his stumps in an attempt to get some runs on the onside and due to the lack of bounce, he got beaten on the pads. Once again Brian Jerling had given that out lbw and although this one looked out to the naked eye, hawk eye confirmed that this one was also missing the legstump! Dhoni did score five boundaries in his 29 but that wasn’t the score that was expected from him in this situation. But he did well in putting up a useful stand of 61 and most importantly the partnership had consumed nearly 20 overs. Anil Kumble then teamed up with Laxman to see India through to lunch at 241 for 6. VVS Laxman was stroking the ball in the gaps to keep the runs coming as it was important in getting close to the follow on target of 381.
Tale of the Afternoon Session
VVS Laxman was getting a good support from Anil Kumble as expected as the latter has always put up a price on his wicket. Windies took the 2nd new ball in the 82nd over and India smashed 40 runs in the next 5 overs as the bowlers did not get their line and length right and also the fact that it was still a very good pitch to bat on. The margin of error was indeed very tiny on this track. The partnership started to blossom really well and it was only after VVS Laxman’s hundred that it was broken. Pedro Collins was the bowler who found the edge off Laxman who got out almost immediately after completing his 10th Test Century. It was a lazy poke from Laxman in the end after having done most of the job. After Laxman got out the follow on was looking inevitable on the Indians. And Kumble who had now become the senior partner ended up his fight looking to take India as close as possible to the 381. He got out after top edging his pull shot off Corey Collymore and Kumble had done a great job in scoring 43 which had some glorious shots as well. Sreesanth had a short stay in the middle as he got some chin music from the pacers. India at 315 for 9 were looking certain to be bowled very soon but Harbhajan Singh inspired Munaf Patel to hang in there. The two tail enders found out that the pitch was too good for batting and in particular Harbhajan Singh was taking calculated risks to get India closer to 381. In one particular over from Jerome Taylor, he picked up four boundaries, all of which had come through the vacant spots he had picked. West Indies could finally break this partnership which was after more than 15 overs and it was only during the last over before the end of the extended Post Lunch Session. Munaf Patel chased a wide one from Bravo to give catching practice to Gully and with that India were dismissed at the stroke of Tea for 362.
Tale of the Final Session
Brian Lara decided not to enforce the follow on as he had lost Pedro Collins due to an injury which forced him to get off the ground while bowling his 30th over. That was indeed a blessing in disguise for India. West Indies had come back to bat in their 2nd innings and that was the best thing to have happened for India as lots of time would be wasted in getting to a safe total before the declaration. Sreesanth provided the breakthrough for India removing the potentially dangerous Chris Gayle who was caught down the legs brilliantly by Dhoni. Sarwan who was fresh from his century played some spanking shots on the up and he soon fell trying to play a forcing shot on the backfoot off Sreesanth for 23. Lara then walked in and went after the bowling straightaway hitting two glorious sixes off Kumble. The first one was a step out and lofted drive straight over the bowler’s head and the second one was a lofted off drive over long off. But Kumble had the last laugh as he got Lara stranded after coming down the track before the ball was delivered. The leg spinner had fired it flatter and wider and out of the reach of Lara who had almost come down half the track and Dhoni had all the time in the world to the basics in stumping. Ganga was doing what he can which was hitting the gaps on the ground and wasn’t as threatening as the other batsmen were. Chanderpaul who had come in next played a magnificent pick up shot for six off Munaf but got bogged down later. India took control of the situation by slowing down their over rate and there was also a small break because the fire alarm in the stadium had kept on ringing and ringing for sometime to stop the play! Chanderpaul was also out soon as he tried to work Kumble to the onside only to tap it straight to the bowler who had taken a nice low catch to his left. After that, Ganga and Bravo saw the day through without any fireworks as they kept their wickets intact for a small onslaught on Day 5 to get as many runs as possible for WI before the declaration. Daren Ganga has done well in adding up useful runs to his Test Career and he has so far collected 41 runs after facing 54 balls. West Indies ended up the day’s play at 113 for 4 after wasting 24 overs which wasn’t what they wanted!