India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 22, 2011

West Indies youngsters make India toil

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West Indies 267 for 2 (Brathwaite 68, Edwards 65*, Barath 62, Bravo 57*) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

West Indies' top four made half-centuries for only the third time in Tests, to quell fears over how the young batting line-up would fare in the absence of the injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul, their most experienced and reliable batsman.

Adrian Barath and Kraigg Brathwaite gave West Indies their best start in five years, before R Ashwin briefly buoyed India's spirits by sending back both openers bat-pad in the course of a testing spell before tea. Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo, though, added a century stand of their own to emphatically make it West Indies' day at the Wankhede Stadium. It was a pancake flat track but India made it even harder for their bowlers by shelling a couple of catches.

After losing the toss, MS Dhoni had hoped moisture in the pitch would help his quick bowlers early on, but both Ishant Sharma and debutant Varun Aaron - taking the place of the rested Umesh Yadav - got little sideways movement. Both bowlers consistently hit the 140kph mark, and though there were a couple of plays-and-misses, West Indies' young openers had few serious alarms.

Spin was introduced as early as the ninth over of the match, with Pragyan Ojha trying to exploit the West Indies' well-documented trouble against the turning ball. He got some extra bounce, and a few deliveries to spin, though not enough to impede West Indies' serene progress.

Both Barath and Brathwaite showcased a tight defence, and there were few flamboyant strokes, with the pair preferring to score mainly by guiding the loose deliveries on offer. The first caution-to-the-wind shot came from the usually stoic Brathwaite, who charged out and swatted Ashwin's second delivery over midwicket for four in the 19th over. Barath also caned Ashwin for a couple of boundaries a few overs before lunch, but he had been mostly measured in the rest of the session.

India's bowlers were tight early on in the second session, without managing a breakthrough. Ashwin induced an inside-edge from Brathwaite towards VVS Laxman at backward short leg, but the ball flew just wide of the fielder. Ishant steamed in and beat the bat without finding the edge, while Aaron followed up a sharp bouncer with an inviting fuller ball that Barath wafted at and nearly nicked. Barath chided himself for attempting that footwork-free drive, and on the other occasions when there was a momentary lapse of concentration, he and Brathwaite had a mid-pitch conference to egg each other on.

The runs weren't exactly coming in a torrent, but as the partnership stretched past 100, and past midway through the day, West Indies were completely in control. It was in the 51st over that India started clambering back into the game as Ashwin conjured some spin and bounce on the track. Brathwaite was put down by Laxman at backward short leg, and survived a big shout for lbw off the next ball, not offering a stroke to a ball turning in. In his next over, Ashwin struck, getting the ball to jump from a length, forcing an inside-edge from Barath on to the thigh pad that ended up as a simple catch for Dhoni. Soon after, Brathwaite followed, though his dismissal wasn't as clear cut - there might have been some glove as the ball spun past the bat and popped off the pad to short leg.

If there were worries in the West Indian camp that those two quick wickets were the harbinger of another familiar collapse, Edwards and Bravo eased the concerns. They provided a sample of their forceful strokeplay in the short period they were in the middle before tea, and continued their cavalier scoring after the interval as well. It's still early days in their career but their performances so far point towards an exciting long-term middle-order pairing for West Indies.

Ashwin continued to harry the batsmen with his variations, getting the odd delivery to jump sharply, but it was the other two spinners who produced India's chances in the final session. Virender Sehwag got an edge down the leg side off Edwards but Dhoni couldn't hang on to a tough chance, while Ojha was denied a wicket as Rahul Dravid put down a Bravo catch at first slip.

With the quicks not finding any reverse-swing, they were easy to handle with the old ball. Edwards' driving down the ground was exceptional, while Bravo relentlessly pinged the cover boundary as they went on to complete brisk half-centuries. On Wednesday, both will look to hurt India even more by kicking on to their hundreds.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on November 23, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    No wonder England are top of the world: In the space of a few months they've thrashed India and reduced that team to a bunch of disorientated has-beens. England reign undisputed and supreme at the top of the world.

  • todobless on November 23, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Baugh Sucks....Why havent they dropped Baugh yet, He has failed, failed and failed again, atleast Sammy has an excuse that he is mainly a bowler, Ramdin should have played this last test, Baugh Sucks...

  • Fast_Track_Bully on November 23, 2011, 11:08 GMT

    on a flat track, someone complaining about inability of inexperienced Indian bowlers!!! LOL

  • dummy4fb on November 23, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    see these indian fast bowlers who could not pick a single wiecket of WI youngsters without Zahir and Irfan they need experience only zaheer

  • anver777 on November 23, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    After a long time its nice to see a solid & sound opening partnership from WI pair... pitch looks like a batmen paradise & i guess this test is surely heading for tame draw. anyway good batting by WI youngsters without their senior Chanderpaul !!!!

  • dummy4fb on November 23, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    Great to see WI boys performing to their potential with the bat. Not surprised as the potential has been there for the past 2-3 years. The problem is that to win a test match, you need bowlers to take 20 wkts and WI simply has not assembled a team of bowlers to do that yet. I believe in the next year, a combination of Roach, Edwards, Ramphal, Bishoo and the young Sunil Narine will emerge to do that. If Sammy is not retained as test captain, we'll have the option of two spinners and two quicks. So: Barath, Brathwaite, Edwards, Bravo, Chanders, Samuels, Baugh, Bishoo, Narine, Roach/Ramphal/Edwards. Reserves are Simmons are Pollard. ODI team: Gayle, Barath, Simmons, Edwards, Bravo, Chanders, Samuels, Sammy, Baugh, Narine and Edwards/Roach. We need batsmen to make runs not bowlers to take 10 wkts.

  • Romenevans on November 23, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    I Published a comment after england series and before the start of this WI series about how costly these two (Laxman & Dravid) are going to be in Australia tour. They will at least drop 2-3 catches per match and that will be a huge difference. Its not their fault, because they are aging but at the same time they should also think about saying goodbye to the game and let the younger generation groom for future. Sadly, they will drop important catches and then they will score some 40-50's to stay in the team...

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 23, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    @Sreedharan Mundanat, why pray God for Sachin's century? Sachin himself is god as per his 'knowledgeable' fanatics.

  • Recordkar on November 23, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    For people commenting on dropped catches. Since they are the best catchers they are in that position. Its easy to field in the boundary line or Mid of and Mid On. Dravid, Laxman, Dhoni have fans because of what they given to Indian cricket. Hope you seen Laxman wearing a helment and standing at silli point? Have you ever stood there like that and have you ever thought of how difficult it is. And many so called stars and super stars never willing to do that. It is usually a punishment and usually done by new comers to the team.

  • dummy4fb on November 23, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    Of course right. wI too order has given them tremendous advantage over India & might either pave way for a win or a drawn match at Wankhede.Agreed. But what difference it makes to India? India already won the series & placed at world#2 rankings .thanks tobAustralia who had beaten SA in a historical match where real will power & caution prevailed. Steyn shoo gets wickets in SA soil alone& reigning over top Spot had to cutva sorry figure in the last innings ofvAussies in which Ponting,hadin,Hussey,Cummins& Johnson excelled. the youngest Cummins had a haul of 5 wickets haul in an innings. Now India is at the verge of regaining #1position if theybbeat Aus in the testvseries.Thwarted attraction for Mumbaites in this test is just the 100th 100 from the Little Master.All cricket lovers are eagerly awaiting only for this & not the resultvatvWankhede.Sachin should get it. we wish him every success & pray God for Sachin's historical feat. SreedharanMundanat(TCR-4

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