Cricket : Windies Resist India in-Between Showers

Alick Athanaze of West Indies in action on the third day of the second Test match against India at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Saturday. (Photo: AFP)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Resolute batting down the order, led by their Captain Kraigg Brathwaite, ensured there was no batting collapse from West Indies this time, but India made timely strikes in between a couple of rain delays to remain in control of the second Test on Saturday in Trinidad.

Brathwaite made 75 and typified the painstaking approach from the Caribbean side as they reached 229 for five, replying to India’s first-innings total of 438 when bad light stopped play on the rain-marred third day of the 100th Test between the two teams at Queen’s Park Oval.

All the West Indies batsmen batted with restraint but none of them could convert their promising starts into significant scores — Alick Athanaze was not out on 37 and Jason Holder was not out on 11 when stumps were drawn; debutant Kirk McKenzie made 32, and Vice-Captain Jermaine Blackwood got 20.

West Indies gathered only 143 from the 67 overs bowled during the day on a mostly unresponsive pitch but they will be more than gleeful that their batting did not implode like it did during the first Test when they failed to pass 200 in both innings, and they finished the day 10 away from making India bat again.

The hosts will be relying heavily on Athanaze and Holder on the fourth day to help them make a deep cut into the 209-run deficit they currently face, with only the front-line bowlers remaining and two days left in the match.

The rain stopped play after about 55 minutes, with only 10.4 overs possible in the morning session after West Indies resumed from their overnight total of 86 for one.

McKenzie batted all that time and helped the Caribbean pass the 100 mark before he was dismissed and the weather immediately intervened, prompting an early lunch with the home team on 117 for two.

McKenzie, playing his first innings in Tests, looked solid enough after he resumed from his bedtime score of 14 not out, but youthful exuberance started to get the better of him and pacer Mukesh Kumar got him caught behind, flashing at a ball of no real merit seconds before the rain came down.

After the interval, the Caribbean side made slow progress and crawled to 174 for three at tea after they were set back when Brathwaite fell to a special delivery from off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

The West Indies captain reached his 50 from 170 balls when he whipped a delivery from Kumar through midwicket for two, adding 40 with his deputy and carrying his side comfortably past 150 before he was undone by Ashwin.

Lunging onto the front foot to defend, Brathwaite was bowled by a delivery that pitched outside the off-stump and spun back sharply between his bat and pad to rattle the stumps — perhaps the only ball that turned prodigiously all day.

For the remainder of the session, Blackwood and Athanaze curbed their natural instincts and defied the Indian attack in sweltering conditions with little trouble, but they added only a further 17 between them.

Both survived Indian reviews of umpiring verdicts — Blackwood, on 13, for a caught behind down the leg-side off left-arm spinner Ravendra Jadeja that TV replays suggested clipped his pad; and Athanaze, on 11, for lbw to Ashwin essaying a slog-sweep when TV ball tracking technology showed the ball may have clipped the top of the leg stump — but the not out verdict of field umpire Marais Erasmus superseded.

After tea, Blackwood drove the first delivery from Jadeja through the off side for four, but he was caught at slip two balls later when he played forward to the left-arm spinner, bowling over the wicket, and got a delivery that turned and bounced out of the bowlers’ footmarks.

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