Darren Bravo seemed unfazed by the huge deficit piled on the West Indies as he scored a brisk century that comprised of ten fours and four sixes on Day 4 of the second Test match between India and West Indies. His overnight partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul departed after a promising innings of 47.
On Thursday morning, West Indies were in a fight to prevent a big loss at Eden Gardens, needing to bat six more sessions with seven wickets in hand.
This comes after they imploded in the morning session of Day 3 to get bowled out in 48 overs, three more than what Devendra Bishoo bowled when India batted. Such capitulation was not forthcoming in the follow-on, but a patient Ishant Sharma chipped away at them and got rid of both half-centurions, Adrian Barath and Kirk Edwards, before stumps. West Indies still needed 283 to make India bat again with two days remaining in the match.
What happened on Wednesday wasn't entirely unexpected, in that spin began the slide and that once Shivnarine Chanderpaul got out cheaply there wasn't much resistance. Umesh Yadav brought the surprise, removing the two batsmen who got involved in any sort of partnership, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels.
From the moment Pragyan Ojha pitched the first ball of the morning in front of leg and missed off, you knew from the evidence from Delhi that the batsmen would struggle. In his third over of the day, Ojha delivered the simple one-two of a big turner followed by the arm ball. Edwards neither read the arm ball nor came forward, and even though it was a marginal lbw, Edwards' being caught on the crease did him no favours.
Chanderpaul showed more intent, sweeping the second ball he faced for four. Ojha didn't bowl the next over. And it took the replacement Ashwin three balls to trap the big fish in front. Chanderpaul always leaves the lbw open by shuffling across, and it is a huge credit to how he keeps scoring and rarely gets hit on the pad. This time, though, he missed an offbreak that didn't turn as much as it held its line. Caught inside the crease, Chanderpaul provided the umpire no dilemma.
Bravo and Samuels batted positively, doubling the score from 46 for 4 before Bravo played a lazy shot: a push at a ball just outside off, without getting close to the line of the ball. Yadav took the inside edge, and Bravo's stumps were now only semi-furnished. A peach spread-eagled Samuels' woodwork soon. This one shaped like it would swing in, pitched short of a length, hit the seam and then held its line. India were into the tail now, with fewer than 100 on the board.
Darren Sammy hit Ojha for a six but Ojha responded with another flighted delivery. The extra bounce on that took Sammy's edge on the cut. Quick singles have hardly been the thought on the minds of West Indies' batsman, but for some reason Kemar Roach was caught backing up too far to replicate the Gautam Gambhir dismissal from Delhi. Just in case we didn't notice this was some kind of a repeat of a show seen sometime earlier; Carlton Baugh fell lbw trying a big sweep off a full Ojha delivery.
Fidel Edwards swung a few before the end, but all it did was deny India their biggest lead in Test cricket, which continues to be the 492-run difference they managed against Bangladesh in 2007.
The batsmen did well to not carry the repetition of errors into the second innings after having lost their last 25 wickets for 268 runs. They were aggressive but judicious. Barath was clear in his mind. When he went after width, he did so hard, and resisted pushing defensively outside off. Kraigg Brathwaite, though, pushed half-heartedly, giving Yadav his third wicket of the day. Edwards' arrival brought in Ojha, but this time Edwards was quick to come forward in defence, and also drove at overpitched deliveries. Barath welcomed Ojha with two fours in his first over, and then Edwards hit his fifth over for a four and a six.
Like any self-respecting modern captain, Dhoni immediately spread the field, never mind the huge lead in hand. At one point West Indies batted with five fielders on the boundary, and kept picking the easy single. When Dhoni brought the mid-on for Yuvraj Singh, Barath immediately lofted him over that fielder to reach 49. He spent six balls on that score, and then could easily push one to deep point for the single that would bring up his fifty.
The ball had started reversing by now, and after tea Ishant bowled a testing over to Barath. After continuously pushing him back with short-of-a-length deliveries and inwards movement, Ishant bowled the sucker ball wide outside off. Barath went after it, the ball moved away slightly, took the edge, and settled with the lone wide slip.
Edwards and Bravo, both batting for a second time today, made sure an immediate wicket didn't follow. Bravo hit Ojha and Ashwin for a six each to get rid of the extra catching men. Edwards was now reaping benefits of a similar approach earlier. His concentration wavered when Ishant came back, and he played across the line of a full and straight delivery. Through a stubborn partnership, Bravo and Chanderpaul ensured there wasn't further damage, but their job had only just started.