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India vs West Indies, 2nd Test Day 4: Laxman And Dravid Bat West Indies Out Of Second Test

By on July 2, 2011

India 201 and 229 for 3 (Laxman 72*, Dravid 55) lead West Indies 190 by 240 runs…

Twin half-centuries by India’s two most experienced batsmen – Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman – all but ensured that the visitors have batted West Indies out of the rain-affected second Test match at the Kensington Oval. At the close of play on the fourth day, India was 229 for three, an overall lead of 240 runs with Laxman, not out on 72 and Virat Kohli, 26 not out in the middle.

The previous two days were largely affected by gloomy weather and though about 90 minutes of play was lost on Friday, India scored 206 runs in 83.2 overs; and while one may argue the No. 1 ranked Test team could have scored at a faster pace the visitor’ approach can’t be faulted as despite the rains, the pitch still had something to offer the bowlers and on this track batsmen had to be at the top of their mental and technical game to get amongst the runs. This was something that Murali Vijay failed to do as he edged a beautiful seam up Ravi Rampaul delivery to Carlton Baugh behind the stumps as West Indies made their first breakthrough early on the fourth day. Vijay, who failed to add to his overnight score of three, has made only 22 runs in the two Test matches, and he will be lucky to make India’s squad to England which will be named on Saturday.

Dravid then joined Abhinav Mukund in the middle, and both batsmen faced testing times against Rampaul, Fidel Edwards and West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, who each asked plenty of questions of the batsmen. Dravid was almsot done in by a Rampaul delivery that angled in before straightening early in his innings, but noticed the deviation just in time as he guided the edge between the gully and slips. Dravid also faced some anxious moments when on nine, his attempted flick off Sammy ballooned up to Adrian Barath at midwicket, who claimed the low catch diving forward. However, after a prolonged consultation between on-field umpire Asad Rauf and third umpire Gregory Brathwaite gave Dravid a let-off.

If a seasoned player like Dravid had problems coping with the swing and extra bounce the pitch had to offer the bowlers, it is little wonder the rookie Mukund faced some anxious moments, but he gradually adjusted his technique and started to judge and leave deliveries better as his innings went on though his footwork at times wasn’t the best. To his credit though Mukund didn’t shy away from the short balls and even played a glorious cover-drive off Sammy that raced to the boundary. He also hit Edwards for a boundary in front of square in the post-lunch session. But, Edwards who had hit Mukund on the helmet in the first session, eventually bounced him out and got the Indian opener to glove a ball to be caught behind for a well-made 48 off 81 balls. Dravid and Mukund added 63 runs for the second wicket before the experienced campaigners – Dravid and Laxman – took centre stage.

Laxman and Dravid may have taken 30 overs to put together their 65-run partnership for the third wicket, but taking into account that India’s middle-order has been brittle in the Test series so far, their approach couldn’t be faulted for the fear of a batting collapse. The West Indies bowlers also played into Dravid and Laxman’s hands as they hardly made the batsmen play though there were some nervy moments even for the experienced pair, who were content on putting the bad balls away to the boundary and keeping the scoreboard ticking over with a single or two every now and then. Dravid reached his half-century moments into the post-tea session, but was soon back in the pavilion for a well -made 55 off 171 balls when his attempted cut shot off an Edwards delivery was caught by Ramnaresh Sarwan at first slip with India 154 for three and 165 runs in front.

Edwards then tested Virat Kohli, who was on a pair, with a series of bouncers which the batsman managed to survive even though he had a close shave when a short ball took the handle of his bat and just did enough to stay away from Barath at long leg. Kohli also had a loud LBW appeal by Devendra Bishoo against him turned down before he got off the mark with a six over midwicket off the 19th ball he faced. West Indies though may rue the catch Darren Bravo dropped at midwicket off a Bishoo delivery when Laxman was on 31, as his dismissal then could still have given the hosts a glimmer of hope to come back in the match. Laxman made the most of this reprieve as he started scoring at a faster clip with his deft touches and also gave Kohli the confidence he needed in the middle even as he scored his second half-century of the match reaching the landmark in 120 balls. The hosts had another chance to see Laxman’s back just before the close of play but Sammy put down a tough chance of his own bowling when the batsman was on 69.

Laxman and Kohli have so far added 75 runs in 28.5 overs for the fourth wicket, but will be looking to step on the accelerator when play starts on Saturday to give their bowlers a chance of winning the match and sealing the series, especially as a full day’s play is expected.

Source: Akshay Iyer, Yahoo! Cricket

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