May 19, 2002

India in trouble after Windies pacemen strike

The second day did not go well for India. After allowing the West Indies to reach 422, India lost four first innings wickets, including that of Tendulkar, for 86, before staging a minor recovery to end the day on 141/4.

India's problems became much more pronounced by lunch on the second day. Despite the unusual dismissal of Carl Hooper, West Indies managed to propel themselves towards a more-than healthy first-innings score.

The day began with West Indies trotting along comfortably, untroubled by anything the bowling could serve up. The loss of three wickets late on Saturday had done nothing to dampen the home team's spirits.

And, yes, even the wicket of Hooper on Sunday morning failed to demoralise them. When Javagal Srinath let slip a short ball and Hooper let it go, after dabbing at it, the most embarrassing thing happened. At least for the skipper of the West Indies. The ball took the edge of the bat and bobbed straight up in the air for Rahul Dravid at slip to back-peddle and catch. Hooper added three to his overnight score to be dismissed for 17.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ridley Jacobs, however, had no problems with the bowling. He is becoming a big problem for the Indians, Chanderpaul is. No matter what they bowl at him, on any wicket, the man the Windies calls Chanders just goes on and on and on.

The runs were not coming in cracking fashion for the hosts. Yet, to have reached 381/5 at lunch on the second day, after being put in to bat, was not a bad place to be.

The second session of the second day was the kind neither team benefited overly from.

It all began with Ridley Jacobs being bowled when he looked set for a big score. In good nick and going for his shots, Jacobs (59 runs, 90 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes) went for a cut shot that just wasn't there. Harbhajan Singh exulted as the resultant edge went back onto the stumps.

Merv Dillon, trying to give Chanderpaul company, lasted just two balls for his duck as he was trapped plumb in front by Harbhajan Singh. The offie was delighted; after all, he as a spinner might not have hoped to get so many wickets on a green-top.

Chanderpaul, nudging, nurdling and knocking the ball away to all parts for valuable runs, fell when he was looking good. He's simply not the batsman you want at the crease when you're trying to force the pace. With wickets falling around him, Chanderpaul attempted one stroke too many, edging a climbing delivery from Srinath to the 'keeper when he was on 58 (148 balls, 7 fours). A disappointment yes, but only relatively.

The tail then packed up in predictable fashion and West Indies were all out for 422. Harbhajan Singh had a 5-for, albeit an expensive one - 5/138.

In response, India struggled. Wasim Jaffer, who played so beautifully in the previous match, was out before he could trouble the scorers, nicking Merv Dillon through to Ridley Jacobs.

And then the man who has been India's source of strength all tour, Rahul Dravid, was trapped plumb in front. Playing down the wrong line to a ball that would have shattered middle stump, Dravid (5) could only look helplessly as the dreaded finger went up.

Sachin Tendulkar, like Brian Lara, was nervous starting off. The pressure on the little master from Mumbai was immense after he registered scores of 0, 0, 8, 0 in the last four innings of the series.

Yet, there was a certain stubbornness to the pair of Das and Tendulkar doing business. Both were not at their best, both were searching for a few runs. The pair somehow kept the bowling at bay. And before you knew it, Tendulkar looked to be regaining his form. The loose balls were dispatched with increased regularity, the sticky deliveries were left well alone... Until, Adam Sanford had the last laugh.

Reaching for a delivery well outside the off-stump, without quite moving his feet, Tendulkar (41 runs, 63 balls, 7 fours) dragged the ball back onto his stumps. There was a visible fall in the morale of the Indian dressing room. Shoulders drooped, players looked beaten.

And then Das was dismissed. Playing across the line to a full delivery from Cameron Cuffy that would have clipped the middle and leg stump, Das saw to his dismay that the appeal for lbw was upheld. Das (33) was back in the pavilion and India were in trouble at 86/4.

Then came a partnership that helped India stage a comeback. VVS Laxman, batting with the confidence and abandon of a man who has already scored 386 runs in the Test series, drove his way to 27 not out. Ganguly, on 22, was not far behind. India managed 141/4, but that still leaves them with a lot to do if they are to avoid losing the series.