Sharma dents West Indies

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John Campbell looks on after his leg stump is uprooted. (Associated Press)

A BLAZING final spell from Ishant Sharma – where he took three wickets in three overs – broke West Indies’ resistance on the second day of the first Test in North Sound.

From 174 for 5, Ishant singlehandedly reduced West Indies to 179 for 8 – tilting a see-sawing day in India’s favour. Ishant also picked up his ninth five-wicket haul in the process, finishing the day with 5 for 42.

It wasn’t his only contribution on the day. Ishant’s crucial 19 runs, part of a 60-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja in the morning, also set up India’s 297.
West Indies batted two full sessions on the day – losing three wickets after lunch and a further five after tea. At stumps, they were 108 runs behind but with only two wickets in hand.

They began their innings positively, however, with John Campbell and Kraigg Brathwaite. They saw off the new-ball spell from Ishant and Bumrah without much trouble, with Campbell, in particular, looking aggressive.

He found the boundary four times in the first seven overs, which forced Virat Kohli to bring in Shami, who struck right away, finding Campbell’s stumps via the inside edge with a yorker.

Over the next ten overs, Brathwaite and debutant Shamarh Brooks consolidated, but not quickly enough, scoring only 12 runs. Ishant’s inswingers kept them both in check, while Jadeja’s accurate deliveries dried up the runs.

When Ishant bowled full in the 18th over, Brathwaite tried to drive him straight back, but a turning bat forced the ball to pop up, knee-high, for Ishant, who was composed enough on the follow-through to hold on to a catch.

Ishant Sharma holds on in his follow-through. (Associated Press)

The debutant Brooks looked mature in the middle, but he fell trying to cut Jadeja shortly before the tea break. At 50 for 2, he failed to pick the arm-ball and made room to cut a ball that was too close to him.

It found the outside edge, only to lob off the wicketkeeper’s thigh to first slip. Those two wickets brought two new men in Roston Chase and Darren Bravo, and they had to rebuild.
Bravo, though, took the aggressive route despite the three early wickets. Two fours set the tone for his innings, and a lofted six over long-on made it appear that he was not going to waste balls that were there to hit.

But he was trapped lbw on 18 by Bumrah, steaming in from around the wicket. The length ball wobbled in the air before landing on off stump and Bravo missed on the flick. His review on the lbw decision was unsuccessful.

Chase looked the most efficient West Indies batsman on the day, finding the gaps off the fast bowlers and unafraid to take on Jadeja. He smacked the left-arm spinner over long-on and even pinched seven runs off a Bumrah over.

An exquisite cover-drive off Shami seemed to break Chase’s shackles in the 42nd over, but the very next over saw his downfall. Trying to flick Ishant through midwicket, Chase – on 48 – guided a shot straight to short midwicket, where the alert Rahul completed an instinctive catch.

At that stage, West Indies were 130 for 5, trailing still by 167.
West Indies’ long batting order – Hope and Hetmyer were part of this team’s lower order – briefly appeared handy.

The No.7 Hetmyer survived a vicious over from Bumrah, where he nearly edged a catch to slip, but soon found his footing. He sliced Jadeja over mid-off for a four, while his partner kept the runs ticking. Searching for a wicket, Kohli introduced part-timer Hanuma Vihari to deliver some off-breaks, but both batsmen – good against spin – thwarted his efforts.

Following a brief rain delay, play continued but Hope was soon dismissed trying to defend a full ball off Ishant, Hope failed to notice the sideways movement away and edged behind. Pant did well to dive forward, given that the cross-seamed delivery was constantly dipping. It ended an ominous-looking 44-run sixth-wicket stand.

Holder walked in late in the evening, and together with Hetmyer looked to see the day off. But Ishant wasn’t done. Offering Hetmyer a full-pitched delivery, the batsman’s drive came shin-high for Ishant, who dived marvellously forward, falling into the pitch, and successfully completing a second caught-and-bowled dismissal.

That exposed West Indies’ tail and they were further dented when Roach fell three balls later, edging Ishant’s cross-seamed delivery to Kohli at second slip. Ishant’s fifth wicket was West Indies’ eighth.

He could’ve had a sixth scalp when Holder top-edged in the direction of third man, but Vihari, racing in, failed to reach there in time. As play ended, India walked off the happier side, but it was a day of missed opportunities for West Indies. Each of their batsmen went into double digits, but no one managed a fifty.

Earlier in the day, Jadeja and Ishant frustrated the hosts – with the bat – for most of the first session. Their effort helped India to nearly cross 300, as they added 94 runs to their overnight total having started on 203 for 6.