Sharma (6-55) bowls India to first innings lead
By Sean Devers in Barbados In association
with Digicel Carib Beer & Queensway
Marlon Samuels was left stranded 22 runs away from his third Test century and second against India as a career best 6-55 from pacer Inshant Sharma led India to an 11-run lead against West Indies yesterday on the rain-hit third day of the second Digicel Test at Kensington Oval.
Samuels stroked eight elegant boundaries in his unbeaten 78 and batted 248 minutes and 172 balls but only Shivnarine Chanderpaul (37) of the other batsmen reached 20 as West Indies fell for 190 replying to India’s 201.
Once Chanderpaul, who batted for 171 minutes, 117 balls and hit just a solitary boundary in his dogged innings, was bowled at 134-6 to end a gritty 226-ball 77-run partnership, nobody offered Samuels prolonged support as the tall 22-year-old Sharma captured only his second five-wicket haul to move to 102 wickets in his 33rd Test.
Abhimanyu Mithun supported Sharma with 2-34 for India who were 23-0 when bad light stopped play at 17:12hrs with the visitors enjoying a lead of 34 runs with all 10 wickets in hand going into the penultimate day today.
The Indians will be hoping that rain, which is again forecast for today, does not hamper their efforts to win the three-match series even before the final game in Dominica commences on Wednesday.
Murali Vijay (3) and Abhinav Mukund (8) will resume for India when play starts at 09:30hrs, weather permitting.
Only 25.3 overs were possible on the second day and although just 41.4 were bowled yesterday, India whose only series win in the West Indies since 1953 was their 1-nil triumph in 1971, are still in a strong position to register their first ever Test victory in Barbados. But rain, more than the West Indies batsmen could be India’s major concern for the remainder of this contest.
Earlier, heavy morning showers caused a 63-minute late start and West Indies resumed on 98-5 in sunny conditions. The bulk of the West Indies’ hopes rested on Samuels (21) and Chanderpaul (20) and the sixth wicket pair looked determined to fight hard as India predictably began with the pace of Sharma and Praveen Kumar.
Chanderpaul was content to nudge the ball into gaps for singles while Samuels only played at balls on the stumps. Chanderpaul top-edged a rare attacking pull and the ball flew over the Keeper’s head for the morning’s first boundary but such aggression was rare, even from Samuels.
Samuels, in only his second Test in over two years after dominating this year’s Regional First- Class tournament was very watchful, but exploded with a stunning cut for four after the previous ball from Sharma had crashed into his helmet.
Chanderpaul continued his good run against the Indians with a stodgy display as the overnight pair took West Indies to 134 before Chanderpaul was bowled by Mithun seven minutes before Lunch.By Lunch West Indies, which scored 40 in the first session from 19 overs, were 138-6 with Samuels on 43 and Carlton Baugh on one.
After Lunch Samuels continued to concentrate hard and was very selective with his shots. But Baugh, looking for an expansive cover drive, was caught at slip for two at 146-7. Samuels soon reached his 11th Test fifty and second in successive Tests. The 30-year-old Jamaican celebrated with a sweetly timed cover driven boundary off Harbajan to reduce the first innings target to less than 50. Skipper Daren Sammy again arrived with his team needing a partnership with level-headed batting and Samuels crashed Sharma to the point boundary and followed it up with a flowing off drive.
Sammy, under tremendous pressure to score at this level, played a magnificent on drive off Kumar while Samuels caressed the pacer gloriously behind point for four and finally the runs were beginning to flow.
With 18 runs required for a first innings lead and Samuels looking ominous, Sammy went after Kumar instead of playing the supporting role and was dropped on 13 by Suresh Raina at cover. Sharma soon had his 100th Test scalp when Sammy was leg before for 15 and another failure for the West Indies Captain left the West Indies on 186-8.
Samuels, with a century against India and South Africa, played a Lawrence Rowe like late cut off Harbajan and when rain stooped play 73 minutes after Lunch, he was 23 away from his hundred. With him was Ravi Rampaul (0) and West Indies 189-8.
In 2002 at Eden Gardens Samuels scored a classy 104 against India in the third Test to register his maiden First-Class ton. But yesterday, nine years later, he watched as Sharma removed Rampaul and Fidel Edwards for ducks as he ran out of partners after a 21-minute interruption due to rain.
India reached 20 without loss in their second innings when rain stopped play at 14:55hrs. When play eventually resumed at 17:10 in murky conditions only four balls were bowled by Rampaul before the Umpires deemed the light not good enough to continue to end another frustrating day at the Oval.
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