The trinidad Guardian / KINGSTON-Jermaine Blackwood emerged from a slump with an attacking half-century but West Indies’ frailties were once again laid bare on the opening day of the second Test against India in Jamaica yesterday.
Opting to bat first at Sabina Park, West Indies were sent reeling by seamer Ishant Sharma, slumping to seven runs for three wickets in the morning’s sixth over before recovering to be dismissed on the stroke of tea for 196 in their first innings.
The revival was spearheaded by Blackwood who punched a run-a-ball 62 while fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels carved out 37, in a crucial 81-run fourth wicket stand.
Debutant fast bowler Miguel Cummins struck a breezy, unbeaten 24 down the order to help West Indies muster some precious runs deep in the second session but the other batsman all failed miserably.
Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin was the architect of the Windies demise, snatching five for 52 to put India in command of the contest. Seamers Mohammed Shami (2-23) and Ishant (2-53) provided the support.
In reply, left-handed opener Lokesh Rahul carved out a fluent unbeaten 75 to push India into a strong position on 126 for one at the close – only 70 runs behind West Indies.
He put on 87 for the first wicket with Shikhar Dhawan who made 27, and has so far added a further 39 for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara, who was unbeaten on 18.
Rahul, the only change to the Indian XI for this game replacing the injured Murali Vijay, has faced 114 balls and counted ten fours.
He was put down on 46 in the second over after the final drinks break when he drove the fourth ball of off-spinner Roston Chase’s spell to short cover where Darren Bravo dived to his left but failed to hang on.
Rahul reached his fifty in the next over, however, pulling a long hop from leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo to the square leg boundary.
The only success for West Indies came when Dhawan drove Chase low to Bravo at cover, giving the Barbadian his first Test wicket.
Seeking to turn a new page following their innings defeat in the first Test last week, West Indies suffered a disastrous start to the day when they found themselves staring at a rout early on.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite fell in the third over of the day for one with the score on four, fending a short one from Ishant to Pujara at short leg and off the next delivery, Bravo sparred at one angled across him and edged to captain Virat Kohli at second slip without scoring.
Opener Rajendra Chandrika’s unconvincing 17-ball dither over five ended when he needlessly jabbed at a widish delivery from seamer Mohammed Shami, and was well taken at the first of two gullies by Rahul.
With West Indies needing a saviour, Blackwood counter-attacked, hammering seven fours and four sixes, to put India temporarily on the back foot.
He was off the mark with a slash over point of Shami off the fifth ball he faced and tore into Ishant in the right-armer’s sixth over, driving the first ball to the mid-off boundary, smashing the next legitimate delivery for a straight six before cutting the fifth ball to the point boundary, in an over that leaked 15 runs.
Blackwood raised his seventh Test half-century in style off 47 balls, lifting leg-spinner Amit Mishra for a straight six.
With lunch beckoning, he perished to a marginal lbw decision off Ashwin, three balls before the break.
Samuels, meanwhile, who needed 31 deliveries to get off the mark, was content to play the anchor role and was unbeaten on 14 at lunch.
He seemed poised to open up afterward when he unfurled successive off-side boundaries off the first three deliveries of the second over following the resumption from Ishant. But after clearing the straight boundary with Ashwin in the next over, he was deceived in flight and caught at short leg off an inside edge at 115 for five
Wickets then tumbled steadily as West Indies went into terminal decline.
Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich fell to a catch at the wicket for five and Roston Chase (10) followed in the next over, nicking a drive off Mohammed Shami to Shikhar Dhawan at slip.
Bishoo (12) and captain Jason Holder (13) fell in the space of 14 deliveries as the Windies languished on 158 for eight and it was left to a 38-run, last wicket stand between Cummins and Shannon Gabriel (15) to rally the innings.
Cummins lashed two fours and two sixes off 31 balls while Gabriel struck two fours and a six, before he was last out, skying Mishra to short cover. CMC
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
K Brathwaite c Pujara b Sharma 1
R Chandrika c Rahul b Mohammed Shami 5
DM Bravo c Kohli b Sharma 0
M Samuels c Rahul b Ashwin 37
J Blackwood lbw b Ashwin 62
R Chase c Dhawan b Mohammed Shami 10
S Dowrich c wkp Saha b Ashwin 5
J Holder c Rahul b Ashwin 13
D Bishoo c Dhawan b Ashwin 12
M Cummins not out 24
S Gabriel c Kohli b Mishra 15
Extras: (w2, nb10) 12
TOTAL: (all out, 52.3 overs) 196
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-4, 3-7, 4-88, 5-115, 6-127, 7-131, 8-151, 9-158, 10-196.
Bowling: Ishant 10-1-53-2 (nb7), Shami 10-3-23-2 (w1, nb1), Ashwin 16-2-52-5, Yadav 6-1-30-0 (w1), Mishra 10.3-3-38-1 (nb2).
INDIA 1st Innings
KL Rahul not out 75
S Dhawan c Bravo b Chase 27
C Pujara not out 18
Extras (b4, lb1, nb1) 6
TOTAL (1 wkt, 37 overs) 126
To bat: V Kohli, A Rahane, +W Saha, R Ashwin, A Mishra, Mohammed Shami, I Sharma, U Yadav.
Fall of wicket: 1-87.
Bowling: Gabriel 6-1-18-0 (nb1), Cummins 7-0-31-0, Holder 8-2-23-0, Chase 11-2-28-1, Bishoo 2-0-13-0, Brathwaite 3-0-8-0.
Position: India trail by 70 runs with nine wickets intact.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, I Gould; TV – N Duguid.