International Cricket

Bad light snuffs out exciting finish

India declared ealry on day five to set up an exciting finale in the second Test at Kensington Oval, but the West Indies determined batting and the fading light saw the match end in a frustrating draw.

The tourists declared their second innings midway through the morning session to leave the Windies a tantalising target of 281 in 83 overs. The home side were put under pressure by an early wobble but Darren Bravo’s brave 73 kept the innings together with the West Indies reaching 202 for seven before bad light ruined any hope of a result.

India provided the most realistic threat of pulling off the win, an unlikely scenario given the mass of overs lost to rain over the course of the previous four days. A late cameo from Carlton Baugh gave the Windies an outside chance towards the end of the final session, while man-of-the-match Ishant Sharma led the charge for India, claiming four second innings wickets to finish with a match-haul of ten scalps.

Despite the West Indies’ brief positive spells, they never truly looked like being able to pull off the victory, especially after the loss of early wickets.

Lendl Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan were the first batsmen to go, dismissed cheaply by Sharma and Praveen Kumar respectively, before Adrian Barath and Bravo steadied the innings as the Windies reached lunch on 51 for two.

Sharma however was to get his second wicket shortly after the break. Barath had showed determination and application at the crease but was beaten but a superb delivery from the lanky Indian fast bowler to depart for 27.

At 3 for 55 the home side were in a spot of bother with another top-order collapse on the cards. Bravo however dug in and had the depedable support of Shiv Chanderpaul with the pair seeing off Sharma before battling through the rest of the session to reach the sanctuary of the tea interval at 108 for three.

But, in the very first over after the break, Chanderpaul fell victim to a startling umpiring error from Ian Gould, the left-hander given out lbw to become Harbhajan Singh’s 398th Test victim. Chanderpaul was given out leg-before despite the ball striking him outside the line of off-stump, before turning further away with the spin. The controversial incident threatened to derail the West Indies, especially after Marlon Samuels departed soon after, trapped in the crease by Sharma.

Still facing the prospect of 30 overs with just five wickets in hand, the home side gained a welcome lift from Carlton Baugh’s plucky innings. Having battled with the bat so far in the series the pressure was on the Windies wicketkeeper, and he duly deliver when required with a well paced knock to take the pressure off Bravo. Baugh was fortunate to survive a half-chance to Dhoni early in his innings – edging Harbhajan Singh to the India skipper – and he made it count by hitting five fours and a six on his way to an unbeaten 46 from just 61 balls.

Bravo meanwhile collected his fifth Test half-century in a largely faultless dislay.

With the game seemingly headed for a draw a late shower forced the players off for 30 minutes with one over lost for the interruption. When play then got underway Abhimanyu Mithun removed Bravo and Sharma claimed his 10th scalp of the match by removing Darren Sammy, the West Indies were suddenly made to panic.

At 202 for seven the home side still had more than eight overs to survive, but bad light came to their rescue by bringing a premature and frustrating end to the action.

Earlier Mahendra Singh Dhoni injected some much-needed life into the game when he declared with the tourists’ second innings score on 269 for six.

India had resumed their innings on 229 for three, but soon lost Virat Kohli as he edged a Fidel Edwards delivery into the slips.

VVS Laxman fell in similar circumstances after advancing his score to 87, as a lack of foot movement resulted in him guiding the ball straight to Darren Sammy at second slip.

Dhoni attempted to increase the tempo on his arrival at the crease, but continued his poor tour with the bat when he mishit Edwards to mid-off to give the fast bowler a five-wicket haul.

Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh claimed a boundary apiece before Dhoni called his men in, giving the West Indies a chance with a run rate of around 3.4 required by the hosts.

The draw means that India take a 1-0 series lead into the third and final Test match at Windsor Park, Dominica which starts on Wednesday.



/* ]]> */