CRICKET / The visitor's steady bowling acquires an ominous air thanks to the Indians' poor shot selection
A regular fall of wickets and a stoic Rahul Dravid awaiting his next partner, has been the recurrent image of Indian batting since June.
The pattern continued at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground here on Monday as the West Indies' steady bowling acquired an ominous air thanks to the host's poor shot-selection.
Replying to the West Indies' 304, India was bowled out for 209 with Dravid's 54 (111b, 3x4) being the slender spine that held the first innings together. At close on the second day of the first Test, the West Indies scored 21 for two in its second innings while R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha celebrated their early strikes.
West Indies has an overall lead of 116 runs on a pitch that has no demons though the odd ball does keep low.
A meltdown was never in the air until the post-lunch session became a stage for Indian departures and West Indian delight. In the time between lunch and tea, India scored 112 runs and lost four wickets.
Worse was to follow as, after tea, M.S. Dhoni's men lost their last six for just 58 runs and the West Indies gained a 95-run first-innings lead.
The beginning of the Indian innings was about two men relishing their batting stint in home environs. The Delhi duo of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (55, 46b, 9x4) notched up 89 runs from 12.3 overs as they melded assertive shots with lucky streaks.
Gambhir nibbled at Fidel Edwards's first ball and the edge dipped into the turf. The speedster's dismay was complete when the southpaw immediately pocketed three fours.
Gambhir tended to reach out to deliveries while Sehwag proved that his aggressive second skin and his right shoulder were fine. Typically, Sehwag made every delivery an event prior to lunch. Edwards was glanced fine and then an inner-edge squirted past the stumps. More was to follow when he was castled by an Edwards's no-ball and India sped to 39 for no loss at lunch.
Losing the way
Strangely, India lost its way in the afternoon when Gambhir backed up too far while Sehwag's shot bounced off Darren Sammy's palms onto the non-striker's stumps. Sehwag then tried to feather some runs off Devendra Bishoo down the leg-side but over-balanced and Carlton Baugh whipped off the bails.
The applause as Sehwag walked away, gathered a higher acoustic range as Sachin Tendulkar strode in, but there was only dismay in store for the crowd. Tendulkar was trapped in front while trying to wrist runs off Edwards and the maestro's imposing presence was restricted to his looming image plugging a cement brand at the far end.
The return-procession continued as V.V.S. Laxman tried a weak dab against Bishoo. Yet to cement his position at the No. 6 slot, Yuvraj flourished with a six off Bishoo, but after tea he drilled Sammy straight to short-cover. The West Indies captain, not the express type who can force batsmen into muttering prayers, crashed one through the tepid defence of his counterpart Dhoni and Dravid grimly watched from the non-striker's end.
The rest continued to tumble and Dravid's quest for a rescue-partnership was partly realised when he added 49 runs for the eighth wicket with Ishant Sharma. Dravid also found relief through some rasping drives but lost his poise and wicket while the tail withered.
On a day on which 17 wickets fell, the crumbling of edifices started right in the morning as the West Indies, resuming at the overnight 256 for five, lasted just 17.2 overs for the addition of a mere 48 runs.
The legs-in-a-tangle-and-dented-pads routine marred the West Indies scorecard as Baugh, Sammy, centurion Shivnarine Chanderpaul (118, 196b, 7x4, 2x6) and Ravi Rampaul fell rapidly while Ojha (six for 72), who bagged his maiden five-for in Tests, Ashwin and Ishant's yells found immediate approval from the umpires.
West Indies — 1st innings: K. Brathwaite st Dhoni b Ojha 63 ( 212b, 4x4), K. Powell lbw b Ojha 14 ( 40b, 3x4), K. Edwards c & b Ojha 15 ( 40b, 2x4), D. Bravo b Ashwin 12 ( 21b, 2x4), S. Chanderpaul lbw b Ishant 118 ( 196b, 7x4, 2x6), M. Samuels c Dhoni b Ashwin 15 ( 22b, 3x4), C. Baugh lbw b Ojha 27 ( 71b, 3x4), D. Sammy lbw b Ojha 5 ( 4b, 1x4), R. Rampaul lbw b Ashwin 12 ( 21b, 2x4), F. Edwards c Sehwag b Ojha 10 ( 21b, 2x4), D. Bishoo (not out) 0 ( 3b); Extras (b-4, lb-8, nb-1): 13; Total (in 108.2 overs): 304.
Fall of wickets: 1-25 (Powell), 2-45 (Edwards), 3-72 (Bravo), 4-180 (Brathwaite), 5-200 (Samuels), 6-269 (Baugh), 7-281 (Sammy), 8-281 (Chanderpaul), 9-304 (Rampaul).
India bowling: Ishant 25-5-80-1, Yadav 19-5-52-0, Ojha 34.2-9-72-6, Ashwin 27-4-81-3, Sehwag 2-0-5-0, Yuvraj 1-0-2-0.
India — 1st innings: G. Gambhir (run out) 41 ( 41b, 7x4), V. Sehwag st Baugh b Bishoo 55 ( 46b, 9x4), R. Dravid c Sammy b Rampaul 54 ( 111b, 3x4), S. Tendulkar lbw b F. Edwards 7 ( 18b, 1x4), V.V.S. Laxman c Baugh b Bishoo 1 ( 5b), Yuvraj c K. Edwards b Sammy 23 ( 39b, 2x4, 2x6), M.S. Dhoni b Sammy 0 ( 4b), R. Ashwin c Baugh b Sammy 0 (6b), Ishant c Baugh b Samuels 17 ( 41b, 2x4), P. Ojha (not out) 3 ( 7b), U. Yadav b Rampaul 0 ( 1b); Extras (b-5, w-1, nb-2): 8; Total (in 52.5 overs): 209.
Fall of wickets: 1-89 (Gambhir), 2-100 (Sehwag), 3-113 (Tendulkar), 4-120 (Laxman), 5-152 (Yuvraj), 6-152 (Dhoni), 7-154 (Ashwin), 8-203 (Ishant), 9-209 (Dravid).
West Indies bowling: F. Edwards 11-1-57-1, Rampaul 14.5-2-44-2, Sammy 8-1-35-3, Bishoo 14-0-55-2, Samuels 5-0-13-1.
West Indies — 2nd innings: K. Brathwaite lbw b Ojha 2 ( 41b), K. Powell c Gambhir b Ashwin 0 ( 4b), K. Edwards (batting) 15 ( 34b, 1x4), F. Edwards (batting) 0 ( 5b); Extras (lb-4): 4; Total (for two wkts. in 14 overs): 21.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Powell), 2-17 (Brathwaite).
India bowling: Ojha 7-3-7-1, Ashwin 6-3-8-1, Yuvraj 1-0-2-0 .