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The Bulletin by Anand Vasu
June 23, 2006
Ramnaresh Sarwan and Daren Ganga gave West Indies the upper hand with contrasting centuries but India managed to claw things back a touch with some useful wickets as rain forced an early end to play at the tea interval on the second day. In the morning though it was West Indies all the way as Sarwan savaged the bowling - Munaf Patel was creamed for six boundaries in one 25-run over - while Ganga dug deep and dropped anchor. When the day's play was called off at 3.30pm local time West Indies had pushed on to 420 for 5.
When West Indies began the day on 207 for 1, India needed a few quick wickets to get back into the game. But that just didn't happen. Sarwan continued in his positive vein and even Ganga, who was quite guarded on the first day, opened his shoulders and began to play a few shots.
The early signs were not great for India. The ball was turning a bit for Harbhajan Singh, but slowly enough for any error in length to be punished. Ganga played a pleasing pull shot backward of square leg quite early in the day, and it almost pushed Rahul Dravid towards taking the second new ball as soon as it was available.
Patel and Sreesanth had bowled with great control and penetration with the new ball on the first day, and Dravid would have hoped that a repeat performance would usher in a wicket. While Sreesanth was on target right away, Patel was anything but. Beginning at slower than full pace, as he so often does, Patel bowled far too wide of off stump to be a threat. Sarwan, who was on 71, thumped the first ball of the 83rd over through cover for four, pulled the next over square leg, sliced the third over short cover, squeezed edges to fine leg and third man and capped off the over with a bold stroke through point. With the last boundary coming off a no-ball 25 runs were scored off the over with one ball to go. Fortunately for Patel that was blocked to gully and Sarwan was on 99.
Soon Sarwan celebrated his 26th birthday in fine style, reaching his ninth Test hundred. A bit before Sarwan's pyrotechnics, Ganga had brought up his own landmark, reaching his third Test hundred, a meticulous, even subdued, yet valuable innings.
With shoulders beginning to droop and the lunch break not far away, India finally broke through, as Ganga, on 135 off a patient 294 balls, inside-edged Patel back onto his stumps. By then West Indies had reached 346 for 2, thanks mainly to the 203-run second wicket stand. Ganga was replaced by Brian Lara and a leading edge that just went over Kumble's head lifted the Indians.
Soon after Patel got one to pitch on the stumps and straighten just a touch, crashing into Lara's pad, and winning the lbw appeal. Rudi Koertzen went with the bowler, and Kumble would have every reason to wonder if he had been bowling from the wrong end all match. Brian Jerling, the other umpire, flatly refused to entertain any lbw appeals, several of which most umpires would have been happy to give.
The fall of two quick wickets gave India a foot in the door, and when Sarwan was sent on his way after lunch, adjudged lbw to Sreesanth by Koertzen against a ball that might just have slipped down the leg side, West Indies were 371 for 4, a far cry from their resplendent 346 for 1. Sarwan had made 116 with some flair and panache, striking 17 fours and a six.
Dwayne Bravo never seems to be short of confidence and today was no exception. He was keen to use his feet to the spinners and almost caused some serious damage when he came down the pitch and flicked Harbhajan hard into the side of Yuvraj Singh's helmeted head at forward short-leg. Bravo eased a couple of boundaries on the way to 21 but found himself in the middle of a probing spell from Harbhajan.
The ball was fizzing through quickly and skidding off the pitch and when Bravo tried to steer a fullish delivery past slip he only managed an edge and Mahendra Dhoni took the catch in his second attempt. Umpire Jerling raised his finger to signal the dismissal for the first time in Tests, and the fifth West Indian wicket had fallen. Shivnarine Chanderpaul then settled down in the company of Marlon Samuels before play was prematurely called off. The rain that ruined the first session yesterday accounted for the last today further ruining chances of a result in this Test.
Daren Ganga b Patel 135 (346 for 2)
Dragged back onto his stumps
Brian Lara lbw b Patel 10 (356 for 3)
Trapped in front by one that pitched in line and straightened
Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw b Sreesanth 116 (371 for 4)
Struck on the pad by an inswinger that may have missed leg stump
Dwayne Bravo c Dhoni b Harbhajan 21 (406 for 5)
Tried to steer a fullish ball and edged to the keeper
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?