Brilliant Taylor rocks India

Jerome Taylor sprung up in ecstasy, embracing his teammates, as he claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket and put the West Indies on top after day one of the decisive fourth Test against India. India reached 200 all out by the close, and the West Indies enjoyed the spoils of the day on a sporting wicket, despite losing the toss at the start of it.

Taylor took a career-best haul of 5 for 50, bowling with precision, aggression and energetic pace to spearhead the West Indian attack. Amidst a dismal batting performance, respectability required a brilliant knock of defiance from captain Rahul Dravid, as well as a gritty 45 from Anil Kumble.

Taylor bowled impressively from the outset. His opening spell alongside Pedro Collins set the West Indies on top after India boldly elected to take strike on what is expected to remain the most balanced wicket of the series. Yet it was Collins who dealt the first blow to the Indians. His dismissal of Virender Sehwag (0) in the opening over was a less than ideal start for the tourists.

And when Taylor consolidated the initial breakthrough with the wicket of Wasim Jaffer for 1, the Indians were a struggling 3-2. The watchful play that followed was nigh on unbelievable and certainly unparalleled at any point during the series before it. Desperate to see off the early threat without further loss, Dravid and VVS Laxman played with sufficient care that the lunch time score read an astounding 29-2, with 29 overs played.

The discipline of the West Indian bowling attack was notable throughout the day, epitomized unsurprisingly in the person of Corey Collymore. While Collymore plugged away on a definite line and length, Taylor supplied the venom and menace from the other end. Such menace was evident from early on in the second session.

The grind of the Indian recovery came to little after lunch, and a middle order failure left the score reeling at 91-6. Bravo initiated the first breakthrough with the wicket of Laxman (18), and then it was over to Taylor who progressed with his day in the sun.

He searched Yuvraj Singh (19), then Mohammed Kaif (13), and beat both for pace in taking their wickets. A searing yorker accounted for Yuvraj via the lbw route, then a quick and rising short ball caught the glove of Kaif. It was the sum of the efforts of Taylor on the day. The way in which he mixed lengths, while maintaining aggression and pace, was a sight to behold for even the casual West Indies fan.

Collymore chimed in with the deserved reward of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wicket, for 3. The score of 91-6 represented adequately the dominance of the West Indies, but also set a platform for Kumble to play another one of the battling innings that has consistently separated him from the standard of a mere tailender.

His was the spark of a crucial recovery and the support that Dravid had been lacking for so long from the more talented specialist batsmen that came before. Some seven boundaries garnished the 101-ball innings of 45, and it was a more-than-handy effort in a 94-run stand for the seventh wicket.

At the other end, Dravid continued to demonstrate his class with a controlled innings under immense pressure. The Indian captain eased past 50 and looked set for a 24th Test match hundred when he lost his partner, Kumble. As he did in the third Test, Kumble bottom-edged a delivery from Bravo onto his stumps to end his brave resistance.

The new ball then served to wrap up the Indian innings in quick time. Collymore pitched a beauty to find the edge of Dravid’s bat, ending a superb innings of 81. Dravid had batted for 215 balls for his runs, hitting 10 fours and playing out most of the day. Taylor then removed Sreesanth (0) and Munaf Patel (0) with relative ease to finish the day that he made his own.

India 200 all out
Rahul Dravid 81, Anil Kumble 45
Jerome Taylor 5-50, Corey Collymore 2-17

India lead by 200 runs at the end of their first innings.

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