April 20, 2002

It is advantage India at Port of Spain

West Indies were struggling at 197/6 at stumps on the second day of their second Test against India being played at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain. They still trail by 142 runs in the first innings with just four wickets in hand. At close of play, Carl Hooper was unbeaten on 30 while Mervyn Dillon was on six not out. Javagal Srinath was easily the best Indian bowler on view with figures of 16-4-56-3.

After bowling India out for 339, the home side got off to a brisk start with Stuart Williams smashing the ball to all parts of the field. His fellow-opener Chris Gayle (13) was the first batsman to be dismissed, falling to a well-laid trap, caught at short cover by Shiv Sunder Das off the bowling of Javagal Srinath. Williams, who struck three consecutive fours off Srinath, was dismissed just before the tea interval, caught bat-pad at short leg by Das off Harbhajan Singh. He made 43 off 62 balls, striking eight boundaries.

Ramnaresh Sarwan (35), who came in at his customary No. 3 slot, as always promised so much but failed when he looked set for a big score, caught by Rahul Dravid at slip off Ashish Nehra. This brought together the experienced pair of Brian Lara and Carl Hooper in the middle. Lara looked in ominous form, but fortunately for India was caught behind off Zaheer Khan soon after he reached his half-century. He made 52 off 78 balls, striking half a dozen boundaries.

Umpire Daryl Harper has had a nightmare of a Test match; he gave Shivnarine Chanderpaul (1) out leg before off Srinath, when the ball had clearly pitched outside the leg. There was more joy for Srinath in the same over, Junior Murray being trapped plumb in front for a duck. The home team had lost three wickets in the space of ten deliveries, and were struggling at 180/6 at that stage. Hooper and Dillon might have ensured that the West Indies did not suffer any further jolts on the day but there is no denying the fact that the Indians will be calling the shots come Sunday. The tourists find themselves in a strong position thanks largely to some dubious umpiring decisions over the first two days of the Test match. It would take a Herculean effort from Hooper to bail West Indies out of trouble on the third day.

Earlier, in the morning, India resuming on 262/4 were bowled out for 339 in the second over after the luncheon break. Sachin Tendulkar, resuming on his overnight score of 113, was the first to go after adding only four more runs in the morning. But not before surviving a very confident shout for lbw off the bowling of Cuffy; umpire Asoka de Silva once again ruling in the batsman's favour after Tendulkar had padded up to it.

The whole of the Caribbean must have wondered about this endless run of bad luck. However, with the very next ball, Cuffy had Tendulkar shuffling back and across, rapped on the pads. The ball would have gone on to hit the middle stump. Umpire de Silva after a dramatic pause put his finger up and Tendulkar was finally dismissed for 117 (260 balls, 14 fours).

Ratra making his Test debut couldn't do much with the bat, caught behind of Cuffy for a duck, which also made him his counterpart Junior Murray's 100th victim as a wicket keeper. Harbhajan Singh too was dismissed for a duck, caught by Cuffy at long leg off the bowling of Sanford. Zaheer Khan (5) played and missed too many times outside the off and was finally bowled by Sanford after playing all over a full length delivery. India were 298/8 at that stage.

Srinath and Laxman staged a mini-recovery adding 41 runs for the ninth wicket. Soon after lunch, though, Marlon Black trapped Javagal Srinath (18) plumb in front of the wicket. Last man Ashish Nehra lasted only three balls, caught by Hooper at second slip for a duck. Laxman was left stranded 69 not out (123 balls, 11 fours). Black finished strongly with figures of 17.5-7-53-3, while Cuffy (30-12-49-2) and Sanford (29-5-111-3) also bowled well before lunch to share the remaining four Indian wickets that fell on the day.