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India push for series victory

cricket Updated: Jul 03, 2011 01:44 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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Barbados is regarded as the spiritual home of West Indies cricket and India have never breached the fortress in eight Tests, losing seven at the Kensington Oval going back to 1953.

Skipper MS Dhoni’s declaration an hour into the final day on Saturday opened the possibility of a first win here, after he set a challenging target of 281.

Ishant Sharma struck two blows, either side of lunch, to ensure a career-best eight wicket haul in the match and raise hopes of making quick inroads into the misfiring West Indies batting lineup. He removed both Lendl Simmons (14), who has not scored a fifty in his 14 Test innings, and Adrian Barath (27) to push the hosts on the backfoot.

But Shivnarine Chanderpaul (12 n.o.) and Darren Bravo (45 n.o) prevented further trouble and guided the team to 108 for three at tea as a draw looked the likely result barring a batting collapse. India pace bowlers slowly lost their grip on the batsmen as the ball lost the hardness on a pitch which still looked good going into the final session. The partnership was worth 53 at tea.

VVS Laxman fell for 87 in the morning as India pushed ahead in their hope of claiming their first 2-0 or better series result in the Caribbean, having won by 1-0 margins in 1971 and 2006.

Laxman, who also top-scored in the first innings with 85, missed out on another chance to get his century as India looked for quick runs, although it was made hard by the host bowlers led by Fidel Edwards.

The fierce paceman finished with five for 76, for a career-best match haul of 8-132 to continue his remarkable run, having made a successful return to Tests in Kingston after two years out due to a back injury. Laxman (188 b, 8 x 4) edged a steer to Darren Sammy at second slip after Edwards had removed Virat Kohli (27) in similar fashion to end a 78-run fourth-wicket stand.

Sharma continued to trouble the batsmen with swing and movement off the pitch but once the ball became old, there was nothing much for the three-pronged pace attack with Chanderpaul dropping anchor at one end.