West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 3rd day July 8, 2011

Weakened Windies show fight

To see the home side battle on a day where many expected them to just roll over and surrender must have warmed the hearts of the fans

They were walking wounded by the end of the day. Darren Sammy's right knee had given up, Fidel Edwards was squeezing out the ice pack, Devendra Bishoo was knackered and the fielders were tired. The physio CJ Clarke was a busy man. Yet, it was a day on which West Indies can look back and feel proud. India held the advantage at the end but they had to really sweat it out to get there.

By the end of it, Sammy was a physical wreck. His ankles were heavily taped, he could barely walk, and he was hurting all over. "I can't even tell exactly where it is hurting," Sammy said. "The pain is everywhere. We are going about our recovery. We will be fresh tomorrow, ready to battle again."

The West Indian fans must have arrived at the ground on the third day in Dominica concerned. West Indies did not have the services of an injured Ravi Rampaul and were playing with three bowlers. Two and a half if you believe Darren Sammy's critics. The fans must have wondered how the day would pan out. Perhaps India would pile on the runs and West Indian shoulders would droop. The sun was out, the clouds weren't pregnant with rain, and the fans might have fretted in anticipation of a long-day's "licks".

Sammy, though, still had faith that West Indies could bowl India out on the third day. "The belief in the bowling unit is quite high. We knew it was going to be tough, and we said that if we bowl at the right areas and create pressure there is a possibility of bowling them out. We got six wickets on a flat pitch. Kudos to the bowlers."

The bad news for West Indies is that they will have to make do with three bowlers on the fourth day as well. "The umpires have said that Rampaul can't bowl till Sunday. He has to spend the amount of time he lost back on the field in order to bowl."

After two days of rain, the track on the third day was sluggish but had no venom in it. The ball briefly swung and seamed in the morning, and West Indies took care of M Vijay and Rahul Dravid in that phase. But the movement died out with the increasing ferocity of the sun. Through the series, and even before that, Sammy and Ottis Gibson have been insisting that all is well with the West Indies bowling; it's the batting that has repeatedly let them down. Friday offered the greatest proof of that. Sure, India ended the day on a high, and have control over the game, but West Indies fought hard through the day.

The day's cricket wasn't exciting by any means but it was interesting to see an attack try to cope with the loss of a leading bowler. Once the movement evaporated from the track, West Indies' plans slowly came to the fore. To Abhinav Mukund, they packed the off side and bowled well outside off. It might have been boring to some but it was the right strategy. Abhinav kept leaving. West Indies kept bowling outside off. Slowly Abhinav started to shuffle across and tuck balls away for singles. West Indies stuck to the plan. The runs came at a slow pace and West Indies ensured India weren't running away with the game.

To VVS Laxman, at one point, Sammy had a short midwicket, short square-leg and mid-on. It's a tactic the Australians have employed: try to get Laxman by making him wary of playing his favourite shots; or at least keep him tied down. West Indies were able to do the latter. Once, Laxman nearly flicked to the square-leg fielder and Sammy held his head in agony. It was clear that Laxman was aware of the field and he started to push the ball straighter, to mid-on. Deliveries on leg and middle, which he would normally whip away with glee, were being patted down to mid-on.

It was some surprise that the breakthrough eventually came from Devendra Bishoo, for he was the worst of the regular bowlers on Friday. The control over length deserted him and he was often short. Sammy then made him go around the wicket and bowl outside leg to Laxman. Again that short midwicket and square-leg hovered around. The runs came in a trickle. Suddenly, Bishoo got one to turn, bounce and stop on Abhinav, who stabbed it to short-leg.

Sammy brought on Chanderpaul, who seems to be a crowd favourite in Dominica. They gave him rousing cheers during his batting and were madly behind him when he was bowling. He moved the extra cover a few inches to the left, shifted the deep midwicket two feet to the right and the crowd loved it. And then it happened. Laxman dragged his heel in the air and was pickpocketed by Carlton Baugh, one of the real finds of this tour for West Indies. Earlier he had taken a sharp catch, standing up to the stumps and moving quickly to the leg side, to remove Virat Kohli off Sammy.

Baugh had got a half-century for West Indies on the second day, and Sammy said he was always expecting Baugh to contribute both behind the stumps and with the bat. "Baugh has worked hard on his keeping and we all know what he can do with the bat. He has 11 first-class hundreds. It was a matter of time before he contributed. His keeping through the series has been excellent. The more games he plays, the better he gets."

With Laxman's exit, India were wobbling at 172 for 5. However, West Indies were left gasping for breath, literally, in the post-tea session and the India batsmen took advantage of the tired outfit. The decision of when to use the second new ball was a tricky one and it showed in the relief-soaked cry of Sammy when Edwards removed Suresh Raina with the first delivery after it had been taken. "It was a hard decision to take the new ball. Fidel had already bowled 19 overs. I had bowled 20-plus. It was asking a lot of Fidel to come in running hard, and to get that reward immediately was quite satisfying."

At the start of the day, India would have looked to bat just one innings and try to bowl out West Indies for an innings defeat. By the end, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina were fighting to extend the lead. It's still India who hold the advantage of course but to see West Indies fight on a day where many expected them to just roll over and surrender must have warmed the hearts of the fans. And to think that West Indies were playing with two-and-a- half men. Or so they said.

Sammy ended his press conference on a note of hope. "The wicket looks quite easy to bat on. When we get another chance, hopefully we can put up our best batting display of the series."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    @VivGilchrist : How about taking off chanderpaul,rampaul,bravo,baugh,sammy lolss..cant your list of exemptions from team India get smaller ? hehehe ridiculous...

  • H on July 9, 2011, 18:11 GMT

    @ VivGilchrist : You just mentioned 4 of the 6 in the batting lineup. Why not add Dhoni and Raina too? In other words, "let's see how India play when none of their batsmen are around to save them". Sounds silly, doesn't it?

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2011, 16:16 GMT

    The problem of not selecting a balanced team means that the Windies are in this position of only three bowlers for an entire innings. Darren Sammy adds nothing to the team and the Coach is defendiing that. If you leave out Sammy you can have this team available: Bharath, Simmons, Bravo, Chanderpaul, Samuels, Baugh, Russel, Rampaul, Edwards, Roach & Bishoo in that batting order. In that lineup, you have five bowlers (four pace, and a spinner). Thats a balanced team. When Shillingford comes back, there will be even more variety. Russel adds devastating batting and genuine quick bowling to the team. That is, of course if you leave out the excess baggage dictated by the WICB President. Pick that team and let them grow and develop if you are really interested in bringing back the glory. You also need to change the Coach because he hides behind the selectors. The Coach should have final say on selection, that way you make him accountable for perfrmance. Fire him if he doesnt perform!

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    That's why they should have played Russell in place of Sammy he would be a better choice then you could pick the skipper from the 11.

  • Karan on July 9, 2011, 14:17 GMT

    I'm not sure it was entirely a matter of bowling many overs, as Edwards and Sammy seemed to pick up a couple of injuries during the day, and the need to continue bowling on would have simply aggravated this, which meant that things became worse than if they had to bowl all of those overs while in top shape. Otherwise, the kind of attitude shown here is exactly what the West Indies has been lacking through recent years. They haven't been a great team with or without Gayle and that lot, but if they want to become one this kind of attitude is probably the most important means of getting there. @Joel: Sammy's made it quite evident that he can bat, and though he's been getting out he's generally looked capable otherwise. For him, it's not so much a matter of being able to play his shots and get runs, both of which he is good at, so much as eliminating mistakes. If he can stick around, then him and Baugh could form a fairly vicious lower-middle order.

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    SOME RULE! This is not a cricket related illness,and as such some discretionary power should be given to the umpires. This makes the playing field unlevell. Nonetheless a great performance by the WI.MS must be licking his lips. The rules r the rules & must be followed. Trust Ravi will be fit enough to bat.

  • Adi on July 9, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    @Ambrose Alexander - Stop the belly aching, please. Unfortunate for the West Indies about Rampaul but rules are rules. Doesn't matter if it's India or the West Indies but if a bowler isn't on the field, he can't bowl. WI took a gamble of playing an extra batsman and only played 4 front line bowlers... Bad idea esp. with no part-timers who can bowl 10-15 overs in a day. If India lost a front-line bowler, they would have Raina and Kohli pick up the slack. You rolled the dice, you lost, now deal with it...

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    "Weakened" windies ?...Oh yea Rampaul is like Mc.Grath and windies is weakened by his absence...What a silly page !

  • Basil on July 9, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    Looking forward to watching India when VVS, SRT, Dravid, and Sehwag aren't there to save them. Bring it on.

  • Michael on July 9, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    Well done Carlton Baugh,yr knock and keeping should push all of yr detractors further down into the woodwork .Looking forward to seeing some ridiculous and silly comments from riverlime and ranpath before they too revert back to the comforts of the woodwork as far as pushing for Ramdins' comeback is concerned. Well done too,Sammy!With theJamaican members on the WICB and the JCB silent on the Gayle issue.,with the WICB,the capt.and the coach not budging,..with Sarwan on his way to Hollywood,sorry! Miami, with Dwayne Bravo outsmarting himself,and with the WICB not relying on crowd support nowadays to fill its' coffers,it looks as though Sammy will be retained as capt.for the next 3 series at least.Is it true that Sulieman Benn was sent off the field because he challenged and disrespected his capt.?Was that capt.a person by the name of Christipher Henry Gayle ? just checking!

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