Windies top 4 to the fore
Mumbai, India -- West Indies’ top four batsmen the most of ideal conditions at Wankhede Stadium and put their team on course for a big first innings total at the close of the first day in the third and final Test against India.
Openers Kraigg Brathwaite (68) and Adrian Barath (62) gave the visitors an ideal start with a 137-run stand after captain Darren Sammy won the toss and opted to bat first on an easy-paced pitch in the hope of avoiding a 3-0 series whitewash.
Kirk Edwards (65 not out) and Darren Bravo (57 not out) then scripted an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 117 runs to further consolidate West Indies’ position and took the team to 267-2 at the close on Tuesday.
“Early on with the new ball it was doing a bit but nothing significant. It’s a good pitch. I will say it is the best pitch out of the all we have played on this tour. It was spinning but it was spinning very slowly. So we had time to adjust. There was not much turn,” the 18-year-old Brathwaite said.
India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin found enough turn before tea to account for both the right-handed opening batsmen, which turned out to be the only scalps in the day for the hosts.
Edwards, on 29, received a life when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni floored a difficult caught behind opportunity off Virender Sehwag’s bowling.
Bravo, who made 136 in the second innings in the last test in Kolkata, was also dropped on 33 by Rahul Dravid at the lone slip position off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha’s bowling.
Both Edwards (10 fours) and Bravo (seven fours) made the most of their good fortune and took the attack to the Indian spinners and were not afraid of taking the aerial route against them.
Barath had looked solid in completing a second consecutive half-century after his 62 in the second innings in Kolkata, but departed when he edged Ashwin onto his pads for Dhoni to complete an easy catch.
Brathwaite, who hit eight fours, was less assured against the spinners and was dropped on 57 by Vangipurappu Laxman off Ashwin at backward short leg.
However, the 18-year-old was dismissed in similar fashion to his fellow opener, clipping an Ashwin delivery off his pads that went straight to Virat Kohli at short leg.
“Playing against India in India... I mean it’s good to get two 50s against them. It has done good to my confidence,” said Brathwaite, who left school two months ago to enter the University of the West Indies.
“As openers we decided to look to get through the first hour without losing any wicket. We did that and from there we just said we will press on and we got a 50 partnership and then a 100. After lunch when we came back we thought we will give the team as best a start as possible.”
India’s pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and debutant Varun Aaron failed to extract much movement with the new ball, prompting Dhoni to introduce spinner Ojha as early as the ninth over.
Ojha and Ashwin, however, initially proved ineffective against the dogged approach of the openers, who frustrated the Indian attack for more than three-and-a-half hours before the hosts broke through.
The second new ball, which Dhoni took in the 85th over of the day, also failed to bring any success for the pacemen.
Debutant Aaron felt it will be hard work for the bowlers over the next few days.
“It is a good cricket wicket. I feel there will be lot of runs scored in the next four days,” he said. “It is not going to change much. There is lot of grass which is going to bind the wicket.”
West Indies were earlier dealt a blow when key batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul failed to recover from a calf injury and was replaced by Kieran Powell.
Pace bowler Kemar Roach was also ruled out due to a stomach bug, making way for the return of Ravi Rampaul, who missed the second Test in Kolkata with an upset stomach.
Toss: West Indies
West Indies 1st innings
Adrian Barath c wk Dhoni b Ashwin 62
Kraigg Brathwaite c Kohli b Ashwin 68
Kirk Edwards not out 65
Darren Bravo not out 57
Extras (b4, lb10, nb1) 15
TOTAL (2 wickets, 91 overs) 267
To bat: Kieran Powell, Marlon Samuels, Carlton Baugh, Darren Sammy, Fidel Edwards, Devendra Bishoo, Ravi Rampaul
Fall of wickets: 1-137 (Barath), 2-150 (Brathwaite)
Bowling: Sharma 17-6-33-0, Aaron 16-3-47-0, Ojha 26-7-55-0, Ashwin 27-2-86-2, Sehwag 3-0-23-0, Kohli 2-0-9-0.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Ishat Sharma, Praghan Ojha, Varun Aaron.
Umpires: Tony Hill, Bruce Oxenford
Television umpire: S Tarapore
ICC match referee: David Boon