Bravo and Collymore shine for WI

Disciplined bowling stole the upper hand at the ARG, as the Windies finished day one of the first Test in a good position. The West Indies continued to ride their wave of good form with another outstanding day in the field. Allrounder Dwayne Bravo finished with figures of 4 for 37 on a day that India managed just 235 runs for the loss of 9 wickets.

Bravo bowled steadily throughout the day on a passive surface, though offering some seam assistance. He just plugged away at the Indian batsmen with a sharp line and length. Of 20 overs, he delivered 9 maidens in ending a wicket short of his third career five-wicket haul. He was joined by Corey Collymore (17-7-27-3) in the task, and a patient display by the West Indies proved incisive.

When play was called off with two overs left in the day’s allotment, Sreesanth (24 not out) was joined by Munaf Patel (0 not out) as India’s final pair.

It was never a day for blasting out wickets, however. Instead, the bowlers stuck to their tasks of largely tireless discipline and operated steadily against some indifferent Indian batting.

Fidel Edwards struck an early blow with the removal of Wasim Jaffer for 1, but Jaffer was one of just two players who failed to breech double figures on the day. The other was number ten, Vikram Singh, though he hardly looked like getting bat on the ball until lobbing an attempted pull shot straight up into the air.

Indeed, it was the clear tone of the day. The Indian batsmen managed to bat themselves in, then proceeded to be plucked out by bowling that was far more consistent than spectacular. Virender Sehwag began with an encouragingly aggressive 36 from 36 balls, but a loose push to the 37th saw him caught at slip off Collymore’s first ball of the match.

It was the same formula for VVS Laxman (29), Yuvraj Singh (23), Mohammed Kaif (13) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (19). And barring the smart bowling that disturbed the stumps of Yuvraj, all the dismissals rang eerily similar in the manner they were formulated.

Dave Mohammed claimed his first Test wicket in three years when he beat a charging Yuvraj and slipped the ball between bat and pad. Otherwise Laxman flashed at a Bravo delivery to be caught behind, Kaif met the same fate from his inside edge, and Dhoni pushed at a Collymore away-swinger to keep the slip cordon sharp.

Rahul Dravid was the only player who truly looked set to grind out a big score. As if fate disagreed with his intentions, however, he too perished to an ill-advised shot outside the offstump.

Collymore got a delivery to bounce and move away, catching Dravid fending at it with uncertainty. The Indian captain was prized out a run short of a deserved half-century.

From 180/7, the West Indies would have had grand intentions of batting late on the first day. The sentiments were not shared by the Indian lower order. Instead Anil Kumble and Sreesanth joined forced in a partnership signifying the first period of genuine frustration for the hosts. Though the steady bowling continued, the two added a fairly comfortable 47 runs.

Not to be outdone, Bravo procured the breakthrough with the deft impact of a soft dismissal. A ball that bounced a bit found Kumble (21) playing onto his stumps, then looking down at his blunder in disbelief.

The brief stay of VR Singh did nothing but add shame to the cheeks of Patel, the number eleven, who bore the shame of batting after him. Still, he was due to collect a not out as Sreesanth skied a catch to Mohammed at third man. The spinner floored a fairly simple opportunity, leaving Edwards visibly disappointed. The West Indian spearhead bowled with great heart for the most part on the day, but was rewarded only with his initial breakthrough.

Questions heading into the Test match as to whether the West Indies could sustain the intensity were answered to a large extent after a day of play. The Indians continued to look confused in their approach, but the consistency of the West Indians with the ball and in the field ensured that the new-found smiles remained on Caribbean faces.

India 235-9
Rahul Dravid 49, Virender Sehwag 36
Dwayne Bravo 4-37, Corey Collymore 3-37

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