A matter of time

Close West Indies 157 (Chanderpaul 54, Zaheer 4-41, Kumble 4-51) and 91 for 1 trail India 457 by 209 runs

Even by modern West Indian standards, this was a depressing day. On a batting surface which required commitment, they showed none and conceded a 300-run lead. At the end of the third day the question was not so much whether they could save the match as whether they could avoid an innings defeat, and humiliation.

Zaheer Khan was the champion of the day. He came out after lunch full of hustling intent and took three wickets in four overs on a pitch that was only meant to assist spin. He could not be defeated by the heat and was full of subtle changes in length and pace.

Nor were these tail-end wickets. They were Carl Hooper, hooking to fine leg (103 for 5), Ryan Hinds, lbw to one that swerved in late (119 for 6), and Ridley Jacobs, spooning a slower one to cover (123 for 7).

Anil Kumble was the next-best bowler. He stuck rigidly to his line and had the occasional one leap or slide. It was his dismissal of Ramnaresh Sarwan, lbw playing back to a topspinner in the morning, that opened the gates for India (43 for 3).

Shivnarine Chanderpaul remained the sole obstruction. India had found it virtually impossible to dismiss Chanderpaul on their tour of the Caribbean earlier in the year, and today proved to be a similar story. Typically, infuriatingly, he nudged and poked around and never lost his head - or his wicket till the very end, when he popped a return catch to Kumble on 54 (157 all out).

The West Indian response when asked to follow on was rousing. Wavell Hinds gave no impression of a man who had pottered about twitchily for a 29-ball 1 in the first innings. A boundary per over appeared to be the norm - till three came in Javagal Srinath's second over, the fourth of the innings. When Sanjay Bangar was brought on to replace Srinath, Hinds took three more ferocious leg-side fours of him.

But when Harbhajan Singh snuck one behind Hinds' legs to bowl him for 40, off just 34 deliveries (60 for 1), Sourav Ganguly chose to slow things down. Bangar bowled bouncers from both over and round the wicket till umpire David Shepherd stepped into have a long word with him.

The spinners kept it torniquet-tight from the other end amid increasing evidence of turn and uneven bounce. Sarwan and Chris Gayle saw it out, but it should be only a matter of time tomorrow.