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India tighten grip on series after Edwards fiver

Pace bowlers have provided most of the highlights in the India-West Indies Test series, rewarded for sticking to plans and working hard on largely responsive pitches.

cricket Updated: Jul 09, 2011 23:21 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

Pace bowlers have provided most of the highlights in the India-West Indies Test series, rewarded for sticking to plans and working hard on largely responsive pitches.

The gulf in the batting talent and temperament has been the difference between the two teams. Although the depleted number one ranked Test team has not quite dominated the West Indies attack, they have been willing to put enough runs on the board and build partnerships to keep the hosts under pressure throughout.

Skipper MS Dhoni provided the latest example as he top-scored with a patient 74 although he failed to push on and get his fifth century, falling short on the fourth morning of the final Test at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Opener Abhinav Mukund (62), VVS Laxman (56) and Suresh Raina (50) were dismissed on Thursday afternoon when they looked good for big scores.

But the collective effort put India, 1-0 up in the series, well in command at lunch on the penultimate day.

Strike bowler Fidel Edwards continued his dream comeback by grabbing his second successive five-wicket innings haul as India were all out for 347 just over an hour into the day.

However, their 143-run first innings lead looked formidable as West Indies were reduced to 26 for two at lunch after Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar had the openers Kieran Powell (4) and Adrian Barath (6) caught in the slip cordon.

The 29-year-old Edwards lifted the bowling unit that had toiled through sapping humidity on Thursday a man short. The only day which did not see rain interruption saw the hosts handicapped, as pacer Ravi Rampaul was indisposed.

Edwards dashed hopes for a big total after India resumed on their overnight 308 for six, taking his series tally to 18.

He used the short-pitched deliveries to deadly effect, taking three of the last four wickets.

Once Dhoni fell, the resistance ended with the last three wickets adding eight runs.

Edwards forced Harbhajan Singh (12) to edge an awkward pull with the second delivery of the morning, wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh taking a running catch at backward square-leg. Dhoni (133 balls, 4 x 4), who had revived the innings overnight and completed 3000 Test runs, instinctively hooked a short ball straight to deep square leg. Praveen Kumar slashed leg spinner Devendra Bishoo to point, and Edwards, bounced by Ishant Sharma (2), gave it back and had him caught at forward short leg.

West Indies debutant Powell lacked footwork and the diminutive Barath could not resist the temptation of playing away from his body, for the sixth time in the series, as India looked to sign off the series 2-0.