Jun 29, 2011 Sports
By Sean Devers in Barbados
In association with Digicel, Carib Beer & Queensway
VVS Laxman, a 36-year-old veteran of 122 Tests and 16 centuries, yesterday spearheaded an Indian revival after West Indies had reduced his team to 44-4 by Lunch on the first day of the second Test on a Kensington Oval track with pace and bounce.
But West Indies, without a wicket in the second session, struck back in the final one to take the last six for 46 runs as India fell for 201.
By the close West Indies were 30-3 having lost Adrian Barath (3), his opening partner Lendl Simmons (2) and Darren Bravo (9), who seemed very unfortunate to be give out caught behind off the penultimate ball of the day.
Former Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan (10*) and night watchman Devendra Bishoo (0*) will resume today and this could be one of the most important innings for Sarwan, both for himself and the team, while Bishoo, surprisingly sent to face just one ball, will be keen to show his batting ability.
Earlier, Laxman, who struck 12 fours and batted for 146-balls and 253-minutes for his 85, joined forces with Suresh Raina when Ravi Rampaul, who had earlier sent back Abhinav Mukund with just a run on the board, removed Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli in the space of three balls to leave India on 38-4.
The fifth wicket pair featured in a 111-run partnership to help India to 155 before Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who dismissed both batsmen, broke the partnership by removing Raina for 55 from 107 balls and 137 minutes with seven fours.
Laxman and Raina batted out the entire second session but once Raina was taken at short leg, India collapsed as Fidel Edwards rebounded from a ragged opening session to take three quick wickets and finish with 3-56. Rampaul had 3-38 and Bishoo 3-46.
When play began, Mukund (1) fell to Rampaul in the second over and on a ground in which they have lost seven of their eight Tests, India were 1-1.
Rahul Dravid, centurion in the opening Test which India won in Jamaica, joined Murali Vijay and a handful of fans watched as Rampaul bowled impressively and Edwards wasted the new ball at the other end.
With Marlon Samuels taking Brendon Nash’s place from the Jamaica Test, Sammy replaced Edwards from the top end and produced a beauty which forced Dravid to play and brushed his edge from off-stump. The ‘Wall’ had been quickly demolished for five and the visitors were in early strife on 8-2.
Vijay (4) was dropped by Bishoo at point off Sammy at 13-2 and along with Laxman battled hard for runs. Just 13 runs without a boundary were scored in the first hour’s play.
The day’s first boundary was posted after 89 balls when Laxman flicked a ball from outside off stump from Sammy through mid-wicket.
But two wickets tumbled as West Indies maintained the stranglehold. Rampaul induced Vijay (11) to glove a leg-side catch to Carlton Baugh and Virat Kohli was taken at third slip for duck as he fended at a bouncer.
At 38-4 five minutes before Lunch, the West Indies were on top with the Indians, again showing discomfort to the short balls.
Laxman pulled Bishoo for four in the last over in the session to be unbeaten on 23 at Lunch with India 44-4 and Raina yet to score.
At the interval Laxman, who has been playing at this level since 1996, whipped Sammy off his leg four a boundary and his confidence grew as his innings progressed.
Sammy did the ‘donkey work’ from one end and alternated Rampaul and Edwards at the other, but like in the first session, Edwards released the pressure when he replaced Rampaul.
A nonchalant pull by Laxman off Edwards reached the square leg boundary in a flash despite the slowness of the lush green outfield due to the recent rain here, while a superb flick when he strayed on Laxman’s pads was dispatched with exquisite timing for another four.
At a venue which will host a mega concert featuring 23-year-old Bajan superstar Rihanna on August 5, Laxman and Raina took the score to 94-4 before Bishoo was introduced into the attack an hour after Lunch and the left-handed Raina drove him elegantly through cover for four.
Laxman reached his 50th fifty from 75 balls, 124 minutes with eight fours and a commanding on-driven boundary against the turn of Bishoo was a joy to behold.
The partnership prospered, 50, then 75, then 100. The runs began to flow from Laxman’s bat but Raina was also settling in as the preparation moisture in the track dried out with sweltering heat replacing cloudy skies.
By Tea the partnership had progressed to 103 with Laxman on 57 and Raina on 37 and India 147-4.
After Tea, Bishoo struck when he had Raina caught at bat/pad and the batsman dropped his bat in disbelief. TV replays confirmed Umpire Asad Rauf had got it right.
Skipper MS Dhoni (2) drove Edwards irresponsibly to mid-on at 167-6, while Harbhajan Singh, who shared in a century stand with Raina when India recovered from 85-6 in Jamaica, fended at Edwards and popped a catch to gully for five at 183-7.
Bishoo removed the dangerous Laxman at 187-8 before Edwards bowled Abhimanyu Mithun for a duck two runs later and Bishoo had Praveen Kumar (12) stumped.
Rudi Webster, the sports psychologist, has been invited to work with the West Indians for this game after Sammy admitted his batsmen lacked confidence.
“Sometimes, the opposition, the pressure, the situation of the game, we don’t handle it as well as we should. We bat well….get into good positions and then collapse. So when we are in that situation, we need to rise above it. That’s a mental issue. Hopefully what the doc is doing will work for us. He is trying to build some confidence in our batsmen.” he said.
The bowlers again did their job and today it will be seen if the batsmen have learnt anything from the Doctor’s presence in the camp.
Scores: West Indies 30 for 3 (Ishant 1-8, Praveen 1-15, Mithun 1-7) trail India 201 (Laxman 85, Raina 53, Rampaul 3-38, Bishoo 3-46, Edwards 3-56) by 171 runs.
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