India start well toward WI 581

The third Test match between the West Indies and India looks well-poised to be a draw, after another good day of batting in St. Kitts. India closed the day on 150 for 2, as the dismissals of Virender Sehwag (31) and Wasim Jaffer (60) did little to taint a bold approach to the task of chasing the West Indies first innings of 581 all out.

The West Indies started the morning session in positive fashion and continued to show the ease with which runs could be scored on the surface. Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels looked to be intent on batting India out of the game, but a peculiar change of tactics then left all viewing bemused.

For the final hour before the interval, the intentions seemed to have turned to careful defence, as opposed to the intent of strokeplay that seemed far more appropriate. At lunch, the West Indies had improved from an overnight 420/5 to 536/5.

Upon resumption, aggression once more featured boldly in the West Indian game. Both Chanderpaul and Samuels began to free themselves, and the latter did so in advancing to 87, striking 3 sixes along the way. When he attempted to display further aggression against Harbhajan Singh, however, it only resulted in the loss of his wicket.

What followed was a hardly surprising collapse of the tail, as mostly attacking intentions against Harbhajan’s offspin saw the dismissals of Ramdin (3), Taylor (2), Collins (1) and Collymore (0). From the perspective of Chanderpaul, it was Collymore’s dismissal that posed the most pain though, as it ensured he would be stranded on 97, just 3 short of a very deserved hundred.

It was the second time in Tests that Chanderpaul remained unbeaten in the 90s at the close of the innings. His 97 took 216 balls and included 6 fours and 2 sixes. In the end it seemed he may have been a victim of his own game, as his laboured play late in the morning session clearly worked against his chase of a 15th Test hundred, and his 6th against India.

Facing the large target, India were met with a sharp and quick start by Jerome Taylor. The early attack was seen off, however, and Sehwag and Jaffer looked progressively more comfortable in striding to 61, until the first wicket fell.

Collymore procured the breakthrough with the assistance of a sharp catch at slip by Brian Lara. Sehwag was made to return to the pavilion, and VVS Laxman took his place at the crease. Playing under pressure for his place in the Indian team, Laxman looked perturbed by worry.

While Laxman struggled to his close of play score of 28, Jaffer continued to impress and play himself in on the good batting surface. Just when things looked to be well-assured for the partnership to be carried into day four, Dwayne Bravo flexed his golden arm and found the edge of Jaffer’s bat.

Captain Rahul Dravid (20 not out) took guard at 124/2, and as is his reputation, he played solidly to the close.

West Indies 1st innings 581 all out
Daren Ganga 135, Ramnaresh Sarwan 116, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 97*, Marlon Samuels 87
Harbhajan Singh 5-147

India 1st innings 150-2
Wasim Jaffer 60, Virender Sehwag 31
Dwayne Bravo 1-15

India trail by 431 runs with 8 wickets in hand.

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