India gave themselves an outside chance of winning the third Test after Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 5/33 to shoot out West Indies for 225 in the first innings. At stumps, India were 157/3 with a total lead of 285 runs which means they could declare early on the fifth day and still have at least 90 overs to bowl out West Indies. An overnight declaration would give India more time to seek victory but they might be tempted to give West Indies a target of 300 or more.
After a rained out third day, West Indies were looking solid in the morning session that yielded 87 runs at the cost of two wickets. But Kumar, who had last featured in the Sydney Test in early January 2015, produced a mesmerising spell of swing bowling in the next session to bowl out West Indies earlier than India would have expected. From 202/3, West Indies were bowled out for 225 due to Kumar’s crafty spell of 11.4-6-16-5.
Kumar though couldn’t have taken his third five-wicket haul of his career without assistance from Ravindra Jadeja who conceded just 27 runs from 24 over to dry up West Indies’ scoring and mount pressure on them. It also helped that India captain Virat Kohli took the second new ball as soon as it was available. Unlike the second day, Kumar found swing to help India carve their way past West Indies.
The hosts started the fourth day on a shaky note though as both overnight batsmen were dismissed before a period of counterattack from Marlon Samuels. The most memorable piece of action for the day however was dictated from the third umpire’s room during Darren Bravo’s dismissal. Ishant Sharma delivered a short ball that Bravo tried to hook but only got an edge that flew to Jadeja at long-leg.
However when the umpires went upstairs to check for the front-foot no ball, Ishant’s heel was found to be on the line. Some part of the bowler’s heel has to behind the crease for a delivery to be called legal but after several replays from several angles, TV umpire Gregory Brathwaite --- no relation to the Brathwaites of West Indies --- felt Ishant could be allowed to celebrate his wicket.
Till then, West Indies looked in fine nick. Kraigg Brathwaite minimised the risks as much as possible and Bravo was finally looking good to make amends to his horrible run in this series. In fact the first boundary of the fourth day came off his bat when he timed Mohammed Shami’s delivery through extra cover. But just how much a rough decision can affect a team’s morale was evident in Brathwaite’s quick dismissal.
He in fact had no reason to be ruffled by a ball spinning away from him and down the leg. But still Brathwaite couldn’t resist the temptation of going at it half-heartedly, inducing a faint edge that wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha didn’t even realise was an edge till his teammates had appealed. Within the space of six runs and 16 deliveries West Indies had lost both their overnight batsmen.
With the pitch breaking up, Virat Kohli gave the ball to R Ashwin and Jadeja who kept asking questions. Samuels was looking to take the attack to them even as Jermaine Blackwood, whose counterattack in Jamaica had caught India unaware, was a little more subdued. In consecutive overs off Ashwin, Samuels hit him over mid-on before hitting it with the turn through midwicket.
Just when it looked that Samuels might be settling down after not scoring off 10 consecutive deliveries, he lifted Ashwin over his head for a six. Blackwood couldn’t make much headway though, falling to a beautiful away-swinger from Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the new ball taken just after the 80-over mark. It should have been a signal for Samuels to buckle down and anchor the innings but the Jamaican has rarely showed restraint in this series. Two overs later, Kumar removed Samuels with an inswinging delivery that he chopped on to his stumps. The dismissal of Roston Chase, a simple edge off Jadeja to Ajinkya Rahane at slip, expedited West Indies’ implosion.
Kumar was exhibiting exceptional swing bowling but it took quite an effort to get to his five-wicket mark after several chances were dropped off his bowling. KL Rahul grassed an easy chance off Shane Dowrich at first slip but more unfortunate was the way Rohit Sharma lost the ball in the sun at midwicket in his next over. Same over Kumar was denied what should have been a straightforward leg-before appeal against Miguel Cummins. Shikhar Dhawan finally caught Dowrich but not without a wobble at first slip.
With just over four sessions left in the game, India came out with the intent to score quickly. Rahul scored 28 off 24 balls but with his fall, along with that of Kohli and Dhawan, Rahane and Rohit looked to steady the ship before attacking West Indies. In the process Rahane scored a fifty and India managed a lead of 285 though ideally they would have liked to declare with at least 10 overs left for the bowlers to again take a crack at West Indies.