All fall down
Windies lose seven wickets for 23 runs in major collapse
GROS ISLET, St Lucia – Regional cricket fans have become accustomed to spectacular West Indies’ collapses.
Today at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium they experienced yet another in the third Test against India.
The West Indies slumped from the strong position of 202 for 3 to be bowled out for 225 and concede a 128-run lead. And in their second innings India moved to 153 for three to take an overall lead of 285 heading into tomorrow’s final day.
India’s glimmer of hope was lit in the ninth over of the morning when Ishant Sharma, with some help from the third umpire Gregory Brathwaite, who felt Sharma’s foot had landed inside the crease when replays suggested otherwise, dismissed Darren Bravo. Bravo had just cause to feel unhappy as Brathwaite’s decision made the technology at his disposal look totally irrelevant. Then Ravichandran Ashwin ended Kraigg Brathwaite’s resolute innings at 64 with his first ball of the day, tickled down the leg side to the wicketkeeper
But West Indies’ innings went into a real tailspin with the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who, playing his first Test since January 2015, bowled an incredible spell in the second session, taking five wickets, to bowl out the hosts.
In reply, India looked to score quickly and build a big lead before a likely declaration tomorrow. At the close Rohit Sharma (41 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (51) had shared a 85-run stand for the fourth wicket as India asserted their dominance.
At lunch, the game seemed destined for a draw. Kumar, however, turned the tide in India’s favour. He bowled 8.4 overs on the trot after the break and ran through the West Indies middle-order.
India only had a slim chance of even contemplating striving for a win going into the second session with the West Indies at 184 for 3. Jermaine Blackwood and Marlon Samuels stretched that score to 202 for 3, but the ball was still newish and Kumar was getting it to swing both ways. Then he struck. Again and again.
Blackwood was his first wicket. The ball shaped away just enough to catch the outside edge, and Virat Kohli gobbled up the catch at second slip. He got his next with an inswinger. Samuels was waiting for the outswinger, and was late in bringing his bat down to a ball that came back in sharply. He could only chop it onto the stumps to be out for 48.
Ravindra Jadeja added a wicket to his list by getting Roston Chase to edge to Ajinkya Rahane at slip, but from the other end Kumar continued to wreak havoc.
Jason Holder was trapped in front for two, while debutant Alzarri Joseph was out caught in the slips for a duck. West Indies were reeling at 212 for 8, and Kumar was on the brink of a deserved five-wicket haul.
He could have achieved that feat much earlier than when he eventually did, getting Shane Dowrich to edge behind to slip, but KL Rahul grassed the chance. Dowrich offered a second chance soon after, but this time Rohit Sharma was the culprit, putting down a skier running in from square leg.
Ashwin came on from the other end and immediately had Miguel Cummins walking back to the pavilion and Kumar was able to cap off an incredible session and spell by finally getting Dowrich out caught at slip, Shikhar Dhawan taking the catch after an initial fumble.
West Indies had suffered a horrible collapse and a match that looked like it was petering out into a draw was brought to life again.
With just a little over four sessions left, India needed to bat quickly They made a good start, racing to 31 in five overs before tea.
After the resumption India lost KL Rahul, Kohli and Dhawan before they could reach 75. Rahul and Dhawan had helped India off to a strong start, but Cummins broke through. The right-arm Barbadian pacer who had to bowl more than 45 overs before he picked up his maiden Test wicket, had Rahul playing away from the body and edging to Brathwaite. Kohli was trapped in front by an incoming delivery as he tried to flick the ball to the leg-side. It was only the third time that Kohli was dismissed for single figures in both innings of a Test.
When Dhawan was out LBW to Chase for 26, India found themselves in a spot of bother. Sharma and Rahane, however, increased their side’s advantage. Captain Holder, too, surprisingly opted to bowl Roston Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite in tandem rather than going for the kill with his pace bowlers.
The pair’s attack had the West Indies fielding five fielders at the boundary. The spread out field helped India pick off easy singles and the lead went past 250. Rahane went on to bring up his fifty in the last over of the day.