India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 2nd day November 15, 2011

Laxman and Dhoni star on India's day


West Indies 34 for 2 trail India 631 for 7 decl. (Laxman 176*, Dhoni 144) by 597 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India established firm control over the Kolkata Test through a quick 224-run stand between VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni followed by two quick wickets before bad light forced a premature end to the day's play. The Laxman-Dhoni association was similar to their 259-run association at the same venue last year, which set up the declaration and gave India enough time to force an innings win against South Africa.

In the morning session Laxman finished his first century in 15 months, a deceptive statistic because he has won India Tests in between, and about 25 minutes before tea Dhoni reached his first hundred since the previous Kolkata effort last February. Twenty minutes after tea India declared their innings closed, resisting the temptation of allowing Laxman time to go for a double-century. In fading light, Umesh Yadav and R Ashwin sent the West Indies openers back.

In all likelihood today was going to be about West Indies' trying to delay the declaration. Their chance to restrict India came early in the morning when slightly variable bounce showed up, and the ball moved around in the humidity and under overcast skies. Yuvraj Singh scratched around for his 25, and Kemar Roach produced two edges off an aggressive Dhoni's bat by the time he had reached 16. Before Carlton Baugh could catch them, though, the umpire's call of "no-ball" resonated. Since then a bizarre bad-light stoppage at 10.40am was the only obstacle for India.

On his beloved Eden Gardens strip, Laxman batted on unaffected, reaching 1217 runs in Kolkata, at an average of 110.63. Resuming on an overnight 73, he didn't have to reach out for runs. Fidel Edwards started the day with a 7-2 field for him. Laxman waited and waited until he bowled one straight, and flicked it for four through midwicket.

Yuvraj walked back a dejected man, a man who knows he can't afford too many such innings at this crucial stage of his Test career, but out walked a man with the declaration on his mind. He lofted the third ball he faced over mid-on. Laxman was already in his 90s by then, and reached his hundred in the most 'Laxman of fashions', taking a Sammy outswinger from outside off and flicking it to the right of mid-on. Roach bowled his no-balls in fading light, and West Indies did the smart thing then, using fast bowlers and bouncers to make sure play was suspended. An early lunch was taken, and eventually only about 10 minutes' play was lost.

Post lunch West Indies tried to slow India down through restrictive fields as opposed to wickets. Dhoni and Laxman still managed to go at over four per over, Laxman through singles and twos, and Dhoni through the big hits. There was a bit of method to Dhoni's hitting. He chose to be patient when Sammy bowled wide with two men deep, but used the pace of Edwards to beat those men. He didn't try anything fancy against Devendra Bishoo's legspin, but welcomed Marlon Samuels with a nonchalant first-ball six over long-on.

The singles remained available throughout, and Laxman kept picking them, hitting only two fours in his advance from 100 to 150, his sixth such conversion out of 17 hundreds. As he approached his hundred, Dhoni too took the Laxman approach as the field sets didn't ask him to take risks. He hit only one four in moving from 68 to 100, but hardly dropped the rate.

West Indies were now going through the motions. Dhoni got back into the boundary-hitting mode just before tea, taking 44 off 28 balls after his hundred. In the first over after tea, though, Roach managed to bowl a legal delivery and get Dhoni to edge it. Laxman's double might or might not have been a consideration, but a mixture of fading light and bouncers at Ashwin made sure India declared with a possible 24 overs to go to stumps.

Dhoni led the team out wearing a helmet, which meant India were going to open with spin again. This, though, seemed to be dictated by the state of light. However, he pushed his luck by getting Yadav to bowl the second over. Yadav's second ball was a peach: it landed on the seam and kicked at Adrian Barath, taking the edge to second slip.

That was the last over Yadav could bowl. Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards scored seven runs in the first six overs. That allowed the fielders to crowd the bat. A bat-pad opportunity duly arrived, off the bowling of Ashwin, but substitute Virat Kohli couldn't hold on to it. Kohli was relieved three overs later when the same man Brathwaite was given out bat-pad off Ashwin. This time, though, the edge wasn't so conclusive. Five balls later, light deteriorated enough to send the players back.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    l just love Laxman and Dhoni and Indies too bad ure dwn on this one love you Team India

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    Those who say Indian pitches support batsmen, why can't the foreign players shine in a flat track ? why they fell for spin ? why can't their spinners shine ?

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    lol pitch as far pitch goes we all have seen how australians were dancing for the short pitch deliveries in the first test against south africa.Its so wierd i feel at times when an indian falls to an shot pitch delivery he gets named as a bunny thorugh out his life whereas an australian any other country chap falls to an shot pitch delivery he is nver branded a bunny at all.And as pitch goes each country has its own flavour off pitches if all pitches are same there is no point in having home advanatage

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    Yuvraj hassn't look to be Test class. All his recent Test innings look more like outings. At Kolkata at least he had a situation tailor-made to play an innings of substance, something like what Dhoni did.

    He is not doing himself any favors by showing his petulance on being given out. It looked a fair decision. The chop, if it comes will be a just dessert.

  • Rishi on November 16, 2011, 1:57 GMT

    These (IND vs WI) matches are going to be boring. That is a given. The only thing I am curious about wether IND will be able to white wash WI or not. If whitewash feat is not being achieved, then this series will be a preamble for camp IND to toot their horn that how they are going to crush AUS in AUS in their forthcoming tour. GOD PLEASE SAVE AUS, IND is coming.The 21 for 9 could be repeated and only time and injury list will tell which side takes this honor.

  • Jay on November 16, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    @RandyOZ: Randy, do you think a hot and humid country like India can support pitches with live grass and bounce ? are you even serious with that statement of yours ? how about we swap countries ? What if Australia were to be in Asia and India to be down under and we have similar conditions as now ? Will you still blame Cricket Australia for such pitches ? the 4-0 loss was an anomaly. It's like Haley's Comet !! you won't get that often dude. BTW, Australia is also not what it used to be so no problemo to the Indian rock stars this winter.

  • R on November 16, 2011, 1:01 GMT

    I don't understand all these comments about the pitch. Surely each country has its own unique pitch conditions. Obviously in India it is spin, in Australia it is geared towards the fast bowlers, etc. It is irrelevant if these pitches help India overseas or not. Will this kill test cricket - hardly. There are two teams facing the same conditions, if one team is not up to the challenge then go back to the drawing board. Different conditions for different countries - get over it.

  • jaswant on November 16, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    Its fantastic cricket on India's part,a dejected West Indies seem to be at a lost.With the two openers back in the pavillion,and with the exception of Shiv Chanderpaul who of course is a world class batsman,much is left to be desired.Their bowling and batting are both fragile,new comer Bishoo is now learning the hard way with no one to put pressure at the other end.Edwards gives the impression of a great bowler,but something is missing.Samuels in the batting department is also full of promises,but fails to produce.Tonight is the test of class.I hope they can stick around and be respected.The pitch seems great for batting.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2011, 23:46 GMT

    NRI there is a couple problems with your explanation. Irfan Pathan is not going to play cricket again! Jadeja would be another debutant with Ashwin. Yuvraj may should be droped then I think Virat should come and Varun Aaron. Kris acually may have lost it this time!

  • stuart on November 15, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    good to see the Indian batsman feel comfortable on their own non bouncing roads of wickets.Maybe if they just played at home all the time they could become world number 1 again.I bet nothing will have been learned from this summer and this will just mean the next time they play on lively wickets they will get crushed once more.We wait and see what happens if the pitches in Australia have any bounce.

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