Windies follow-on as India roll

Overwhelming is hardly an adequate word of description, as India continued to surge forward in their dominance over the West Indies in the second Test match in St. Lucia. Now it seems that only Brian Lara stands in the way of crushing defeat for the West Indies and the certainly miraculous.

The West Indies captain promoted himself to number three after his team was made to follow on. He entered at the fall of Chris Gayle for 2, and was addressed in his arduous task immediately, as he edged his first delivery away for four. Through sheer determination and still undeniable class, Lara soldiered alongside Daren Ganga to see the fight to the close at 43-1.

The fight was a shining moment in a general day of gloom. There were times when it seemed like the West Indies had found the spirit to finally provide some challenge to their guests, but the inopportune moments at which that positivity was snuffed out simply shadowed the day further. Even the prospect and realization of a thunderstorm could not quite salvage an immense uphill battle for survival by day’s end.

India batted with absolute ease and comfort on this same surface earlier in the match, and when they took the ball in today’s morning session it looked a totally different event. Yes, there was some lateral movement for the bowlers and occasionally the bounce was not as trustworthy as ideal, but it was the manner in which the West Indian batsmen exaggerated the task that was most notable.

Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul started relatively well in the morning session, and Chanderpaul in particular looked in good form. Yet so often wickets fall in bunches and there was not any exception to be had here. First to go was Gayle, just two balls after belting Kumble over midwicket for a six. The champion spinner rose to remind of his title and found the opener’s outside edge for a cool 46 runs.

Before the new batsman, Dwayne Bravo, could properly adjust the to light, he lost his partner to the first real impact of Irfan Pathan in the match. Chanderpaul fell over against a straight one, to serve an embarrassing reminder of the concentration needed for success on this pitch. The score of 106-3 was then slumped at 106-5 and Bravo and Ramdin set about to rebuild once more.

The two resisted to the tune of 61 runs for the sixth wicket, but were parted within 11 of each other. Bravo (25) was squared up by Kumble and Dravid took a fine low catch, then Ramdin’s frustrations brought his downfall via a loose drive against Munaf Patel. The wicketkeeper-batsman departed for a promising 30.

It was then that Dravid decided that Virender Sehwag would be his man with the task of ending the innings. He did so dutifully and manfully, taking the final three wickets in relatively quick time. Jerome Taylor (23) provided more resistance than is his usual promise, but it was far too little and further too late.

An athletic one-handed catch removed Ian Bradshaw for 20 and marked the end of the West Indian first innings at 215. The task stood at a substantial 373 runs in the deficit, and a less confident team may have considered batting again. However, despite undoubted memories of an historic turnaround staged by India after following on 5 years ago (v Australia, 2001), Dravid was more keen on further stating dominance and wasted no time in inserting the West Indies once more.

His team received instant gratification in Gayle’s demise, but the resilience of Ganga and Lara ensured that hope rides into a new day. The two have advanced slowly thus far, but with the magnitude of the challenge they face, any advancement is welcome. The day ended early due to poor light and rain, and it appears that both will be needed in grand company if the West Indies are to go on and save another Test match. That said, the Lara factor remains present.

India 1st innings 588-8 dec.
Virender Sehwag 180, Mohammed Kaif 148*, Rahul Dravid 146
Pedro Collins 4-116, Chris Gayle 1-52

West Indies 1st innings 215 all out
Chris Gayle 46, Shivnarine Chanderpaul/Denesh Ramdin 30
Virender Sehwag 3-33, Munaf Patel 3-51, Anil Kumble 3-57

West Indies 2nd innings (f-o) 43-1
Daren Ganga 24*, Brian Lara 15*
Irfan Pathan 1-23

West Indies trail by 340 runs on first innings with 9 second innings wickets in hand.

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