Top-four hit 50s as West Indies reach 267/2

Mumbai : The West Indies ended the opening day of the third and last cricket Test against India at 267 for two in the first innings as their top four batsmen crossed the fifty-mark here Tuesday.

Kirk Edwards (65) and Darren Bravo (57) were involved in an unfinished 130-run stand for the third wicket after openers Adrian Barath (62) and Kraigg Brathwaite (68) put on 137 runs.

After Dhoni lost the toss, Indian pacers Ishant Sharma and debutant Varun Aaron, who has come in for rested Umesh Yadav, generated pace on a pitch which had a tinge of green but there was hardly any movement in the air or off the seam.

It was a hard day for the Indians and dropped catches made it worse. There was a brief spell in the second session when the spinners extracted turn and bounce off the pitch and offie Ravichandran Ashwin picked up both the wickets that fell.

Barath (148 balls, 8×4) and Brathwaite (184, 8×4) gave the West Indies their best start in five years with their cautious approach, getting 80 runs in the 30-over pre-lunch session.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced spin as early as in the ninth over, bringing in Pragyan Ojha, but it hardly made any impression on Barath and Brathwaite.

The two batsmen were in complete control as they crossed the 100-run mark, the last time the West Indies openers crossed the three-figure-mark was in 2006 when Chris Gayle and Darren Ganga struck 143 against India at St. Kitts.

Brathwaite, who survived two dropped chances, got his half-century cutting Ojha for a boundary but just as the partnership seemed to be prospering, Ashwin struck to remove Barath, Dhoni lunging forward to take a bat-pad catch in front of the wicket.

The breakthrough lifted the spirits of the Indians and Ashwin soon got rid of Brathwaite, again bat-pad, this time caught by Virat Kohli.

Bravo, fresh from a century in the Kolkata Test, and Edwards, who got a hundred on debut against India earlier this year, joined forces to frustrate the India bowlers.

Edwards was the first to get to his half-century. He superbly drove Aaron for a four to move to 49 and took a single off the next delivery to reach his third half-century in Tests in 69 balls.

Dhoni took the new ball in the midst of the 85th over but the West Indies batsman were hardly troubled. Bravo, who was dropped on 33 by Rahul Dravid at first slip off Ojha, hit Aaron and Sharma for fours in consecutive overs to bring up his 50 in 88 balls.

The West Indies are without their most experienced batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who has been ruled out with a calf muscle injury. He has been replaced by Kieran Powell.

The Indians brought in Virat Kohli as the second change from the side that played in Kolkata and he replaced Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped from the squad after failing in the first two Tests.

India lead the three-match series 2-0.
IANS

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