The threat from the raw pace of Fidel Edwards and the spin of Devendra Bishoo was known. However, it was West Indies captain Darren Sammy’s medium-pace that dealt crucial blows as a batting collapse left India all out for 209 and fighting for survival in the first Test here on Monday.
At stumps on Day 2, the visitors had an overall lead of 116 runs with eight second-innings wickets in hand. It can prove decisive on a Ferozshah Kotla pitch where the ball has been keeping low from the first hour of play in the Test.
Seventeen wickets tumbled on day Two.
A sharp catch in three attempts by Gautam Gambhir at short cover to send back Kieran Powell off R Ashwin late in the day was just what India needed. Pragyan Ojha then took his seventh wicket of the match but India will have to continue the good work on Day 3 if they are to prevent a fifth straight defeat in Tests since the England tour.
“Looking at the wicket, we will not take it for granted that we can bowl them out for under 250,” Sammy said, when asked what kind of a target he wanted to set India. “We are trying to keep them to 100-150 in the second innings,” said Virender Sehwag.
The nightmare in England in the summer had been the result of Indian batsmen’s fragility against fast bowling on lively pitches. Here only Edwards could generate some pace on a slow pitch while leg-spinner Bishoo exploited whatever little turn was on offer. Sammy banked on discipline.
The low bounce helped his wicket-to-wicket bowling with the ‘keeper standing up. However, there were runs to be scored if the batsmen defended well, cut out loose strokes and waited for scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, only Dravid appeared to have absorbed the lesson, till he flapped at a Ravi Rampaul bouncer to be caught at backward square leg.
After two unfortunate dismissals claimed the openers, Sachin Tendulkar walked in to applause from the motley crowd. He began with a punched four off the back-foot through the off-side against Bishoo and looked in control. However, Sammy's decision to bring back Edwards got him Tendulkar's wicket. Tendulkar was caught in front by a delivery that came in, prolonging the wait for hundred international hundreds.