India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 3rd day November 24, 2011

India's big guns lead strong response


India 281 for 3 (Dravid 82, Tendulkar 67*, Gambhir 55) trail West Indies 590 (Bravo 166, Edwards 86, Powell 81, Ashwin 5-156) by 309 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

For the third day in a row, the batsmen had an easy time at the Wankhede Stadium. Several of India's batting heavyweights helped themselves to half-centuries as the home side got halfway to West Indies' 590. Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid didn't make it to triple figures, but Sachin Tendulkar was well on his way towards reaching the most talked-about milestone of the year.

West Indies didn't declare overnight, allowing their final pair to bat on, and after 15 minutes of entertaining tail-ender swings, Devendra Bishoo was bowled by offspinner R Ashwin, who completed his second five-wicket haul in his debut series.

A typically quick start followed from India's openers: Virender Sehwag routinely scything the ball through cover, and Gambhir poking the ball either side of point for runs. Gambhir was a touch loose to start with - chasing and missing several wide deliveries and surviving an early lbw appeal off Fidel Edwards - before getting more fluent.

Edwards and Ravi Rampaul bowled with aggression but there wasn't much extra bounce or sideways movement to encourage them. West Indies resorted to a defensive field half an hour into the innings - seven fielders on the off side, with two of them in the deep in front of point.

It was the least pacy of the West Indian quicks, Darren Sammy, who snapped the opening stand at 67. He got one to slide past Sehwag's inside-edge and hit the stumps, signalling with three fingers that it was the third time he had dismissed Sehwag in the series.

The tempo was predictably slower after Sehwag's exit, and West Indies could have added to the advantage after lunch. Dravid seemed to have hurt his back after slipping when Gambhir turned down a single. Gambhir had a reprieve when he guided Sammy towards first slip, where Kirk Edwards made a lazy attempt at a catch, barely getting a finger on the ball.

After those close calls, Gambhir and Dravid were more solid against the West Indian quicks. Dravid reached 13,000 runs by classically driving a half-volley for four, while Gambhir's increasing confidence was on display as he launched one over midwicket to reach his half-century. With Bishoo off the field for half the post-lunch session, getting his injured knee attended to, Dravid feasted on Marlon Samuels' gentle offbreaks, crashing him through covers for successive fours.

Both batsmen were set, and the track was still a shirtfront, but West Indies managed to wheedle out a wicket, when Rampaul banged in a bouncer that Gambhir threw his bat at. The ball flew through to the keeper, and though the Snickometer showed nothing, the umpire was convinced there was an edge.

The crowd wasn't too disappointed since it brought in Sachin Tendulkar, continuing his quest for the century that has eluded him since March. Tendulkar used his feet well against the spinners right from the start, and quickly progressed to 20. After tea, the crowd had more to cheer as he upper-cut Fidel Edwards into the stands beyond third man. It was a shot he repeated against a quicker one from Samuels, getting four for his effort.

Dravid, meanwhile, worked his way to 1000 runs for the year, and his half-century soon after. He showed his presence of mind off the final delivery before tea: after he defended the ball, it spun alarmingly back towards the stumps, but he reacted just in time, booting the ball away when the it was inches away from the wickets.

His sixth hundred of 2011 - his personal-best for a calendar year - seemed inevitable as he soldiered on untroubled after tea, jumping down the track to power Bishoo over mid-on before powerfully square-cutting Edwards for another boundary. He coaxed the ball past mid-off to move into the eighties, but was dismissed off the next delivery, top-edging on to the stumps.

Tendulkar carried on, unfurling several stylish boundaries to march past 50, a landmark that was greeted by his home ground with expected boisterousness. VVS Laxman also joined in the fun, showing off the wristy whips to midwicket that make him such a delight to watch. Both had a moment of worry each: Laxman top-edging towards a vacant point region, and Tendulkar surviving on 58 as Cartlon Baugh put down a regulation outside edge.

Those two wickets would have swung the match in West Indies' favour. Instead, with only 13 wickets toppled in three days, and the track showing little signs of degenerating, it remains an even game with chances of an outright result receding.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 11:05 GMT

    Sri_iyer. How about that? Sorry sir, Dravid has played 277innings in 160 tests Sachin 300plus in 184 testsand your entire arithmetics I am afraid is wrong.

  • Srinivas on November 25, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    Amidst this hoopla by Sachin fanatics and the absurd wicket by the curator to aid his century, team interest became secondary and it so happened that the young and talented visitors piled on nearly 600 runs on this batting paradise and India was staring down the barrel of follow-on. Thanks to Ashwin's batting heroics that we are saved from those blushes. How shameful the cricketing culture of our country can get? Sachin will be perceived as more and more repulsive courtesy the raucous nature of his fanatics and the myopic approach of his fanatic curator. Shame!

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    dhoni back to his true self. Even in the previous match he was caught behind on 9 and 13 off no-balls before he scored 144. He looks out of place in tests with that peculiar footwork. Even Ashwin looks more assured. I don't see him performing well in Australia and this may prove to be a big problem for India like it did in England(tests).

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    This is very very clear, as its a Big mistake of Sachin of choosing BAD shot at RIGHT Time... And it seems Sachin needs a strong player opposite to make this 100th record without Nervous, like someone who always communicate with him from the opposite end. Like an example of his 200 runs against SA. I was expecting Dhoni when Laxman out, because, in some what he can do it with supporting Sachin from opposite end. But anyhow, the whole team is not playing for this Record of Sachin... only the Media... the Fans and Everyone around the world making this as big news and putting a strong tension on him. NOW!!! DUE TO THIS... We are playing to avoid the FOLLOW ON!!! PLEASE Forget the Records... he already have more in hand... Lets play for Winning... as the Whole Team still needs more to Prove... Where as Sachin already proved almost everything in the past 25 years of his Cricket life

  • Srinivas on November 25, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Sachin goes in the 90s, fell short of a century. Tough times for India in Australia. Hope he retires at least now or plays proper cricket in Australia without carrying the baggage of 100th century. We don't want that meaningless century to impact our team's dynamics on such an important tour.

  • Anurag on November 25, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    Goddddd!. I never wake up earling in the morning, today i did to watch him get to the magical figure. Now i wish what I saw was a dream seeing sachin dismissed without getting to THE Hundred. So close, yet so far. Sachin you should have followed what you son says, go for a 6 when you are on 94. Anyways, the nation would be waiting the next time. Hail Sachin!!!

  • Ahsan on November 25, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    Instead of quarelling over who the better batsman is between Sachin and Dravid ( both are legends), I think genuine cricket fans should ask cricinfo to publish an article about Dravid, because remember those 2 players are not fighting among themselves. Rather we are , over them. So, we should drop it, and ask cricinfo to give Dravid some well deserved respect for reaching 13,000 runs. Cmon my fellow readers, i want to see requests for an article on THE GREAT WALL OF INDIA. People with half his runs are widely respected in the cricket arena, then why this disregard towards Dravid?

  • Lokesh on November 25, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    @John Duch: You are spot on. I think, there is a mindset... in curators.. that more the number of runs.. better the pitch. Atleast this is the mindset for alot of people.. and it results in pitches like this.. and matches like this. It pushes a young cricketer to become a batsman.. rather than a bowler. And then you land up with what india faces today... a dearth of batsmen.... but no high quality bowling. There is not one imposing bowler today in the Indian line up who can consistently trouble a quality batsmen. Zaheer was one.. but he has way too many fitness problems.. I cant think of another..

  • Deep on November 25, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    There is no point using the number of matches when comparing players from a player's debut. It is not Dravid or Sachin's fault that Dravid has managed to keep himself fit to play those extra games in the same time period.

  • Mit on November 25, 2011, 2:18 GMT

    @kapsy & @cricketisagame

    Guys please be FAIR while comparing any stats ! lets have a look at ur stats regarding Sachin and Dravid After dravid's debut in 96, he scored about 13061 runs and sachin scored 12524 runs so yeah Dravid scored some 500 runs more but he played 159 tests while Sachin played only 145 !! 14 tests and only difference of only 500 make clearly Sachin well ahead of Dravid. Btw Dravid scored at 53.33 average while Sachin scored at 57.18 after dravid's debut!! And in same time Sachin scored 42 hundreds in 145 matches and Dravid 36 in 159 matches.

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