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Mukund fifty buoys India

india Updated: Jul 08, 2011 22:33 IST
N Ananthanarayanan

With each outing, young opener Abhinav Mukund is getting better, showing the kind of temperament needed to succeed at the highest level.

He again proved that his selection for the England tour, where he is likely to partner Gautam Gambhir in the absence of Virender Sehwag, was justified. On Friday, the 21-year-old left-hander struck his maiden Test half-century in a demanding situation on the third morning of the final Test at the Windsor Park Stadium.

Mukund had shown glimpses of his talent on debut in Jamaica and then missed out in Barbados, dismissed by a Fidel Edwards snorter for 48 in the second innings. The pitch here is more benign and the West Indies were hamstrung without the services of paceman Ravi Rampaul, who is down with food poisioning and gastritis.

India, replying to the home team's 204, found themselves in trouble early in the day before Mukund and VVS Laxman revived the innings to guide them to 102 for two at lunch after an extended session.

Mukund was unbeaten on 52 after a stay of close to three hours, using soft hands to work the ball away and rotate the strike with Laxman, who was 30 not out at the interval. The pair had added 84 runs for the unbroken third wicket partnership, and will need more if India are to take control.

India were in trouble in the morning. Opener Murali Vijay (5) continued to struggle and it was not long before he chased a Fidel Edwards delivery that moved away a shade. It has been a horror tour for Vijay, who has aggregated just 27 runs from five innings, paying the price for his loose technique against pace and bounce.

Skipper Darren Sammy claimed Rahul Dravid a second time in the series. Pushing forward in defence, Dravid was beaten by the in-coming delivery to have his stumps knocked back.