Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brathwaite, Chaderpaul steady West Indies innings at tea

Opener Kraigg Brathwaite and Shivnarine Chanderpaul frustrated the Indian bowlers with contrasting unbeaten half-centuries as West Indies took tea at 159 for three on day one of the first cricket Test against India in New Delhi on Sunday. 

Brathwaite was batting on 61 off 196 deliveries, while giving him company was the experienced Chanderpaul on 55 off 88, as West Indies added 90 runs for the loss of one wicket in the 32 overs bowled after lunch following skipper Darren Sammy's decision to bat first.

The 18-year-old Barbadian's dogged resistance, during which he found the fence thrice, was very crucial from the West Indies' point of view as India's spin duo of Prgyan Ojha and debutant Ravichandran Ashwin at one stage threatened to run through their middle-order on a Ferozeshah Kotla pitch that seems to have something for the spinners.

After Ojha's double blow in the first session, which saw him remove opener Kieran Powell and Kirk Edwards, Ashwin bowled Darren Bravo right after the lunch break to put the visitors under pressure.

But Brathwaite, along with Chanderpaul, stitched together a handy 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket to steady the West Indian ship.

Even as Brathwaite got his runs with nudges and steers through the third-man region, Chanderpaul looked intent on attacking the bowlers, especially the spinners, against whom he was not afraid to go down the wicket.

After dispatching Umesh Yadav, the second debutant in the Indian team, for two sweetly-timed boundaries, Chanderpaul took Ashwin to the task, cutting him through point for another four.

Moments later, the veteran of 135 Tests with nearly 9500 runs, used his feet against Ashwin to loft the off-spinner over long-on for the maximum.

Brathwaite, meanwhile, got to his fifty, his second in this form of the game, with a push to mid-on. Chanderpaul followed suit soon after, to bring up his 57th half-century.

While the morning session proved to be fruitful for the spinners, especially Ojha, the scenario changed after lunch.

While there was turn in the wicket, it was too slow to create problems for the batsmen.

Even as Ojha and Ashwin shouldered the bulk of the responsibility, bowling 20 overs each, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also tried Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.

Earlier, Ojha had struck twice as India enjoyed the upperhand in the first session, leaving the visitors at 69 for two at lunch.

Left-arm spinner Ojha, playing Test cricket after almost a year since New Zealand's tour of India, had Powell trapped in front with big turning delivery in his second over, and the innings' 12th.

Ojha then had Edwards, on a high after slamming a century and a fifty in his last Test, against Bangladesh, caught and bowled with the one that stopped at the batsman.

The right-hander pressed forward, looking for the drive but was a touch early into the shot.

The spinner, in the process, made amends for dropping a sitter off his own bowling, the batsmen being Powell, in his first over, with the scoreboard reading 25 for no loss.

The goof-up, however, didn't matter much as Powell could not add a run to the total.

On a pitch that hardly offered any assistance to the quick bowlers, both Ishant Sharma and debutant Yadav, who was preferred over Varun Aaron, struggled to create an impression.

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