BRIDGETOWN: Veteran V.V.S. Laxman struck a composed 85 Tuesday as India was bowled out for 201 on day one of the second test against West Indies at Kensington Oval.
The visitors’ pacers hit back late as the hosts wobbled to 30-3 at the close.
Laxman anchored India after they had slid to 44-4 at lunch. The 36-year-old became the fourth Indian batsman to pass 8,000 runs along the way but fell short of a 17th test century.
Laxman shared an important fifth-wicket stand of 117 with left-hander Suresh Raina, who contributed 53.
Ravi Rampaul (3-38) wrecked the Indian top order while fellow pacer Fidel Edwards (3-56) and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo (3-46) triggered a late order slide either side of the Laxman-Raina stand.
Laxman was delighted that his milestone could arrive during such a crucial knock.
"It feels great because all your contributions to the country are rewarded by passing all of these milestones," he said. "But saying that, it was important for me to hang in there and have a partnership because the way we started off. It was a helpful track for the fast bowlers and it was quite difficult for the batsmen."
Rampaul struck early once the hosts won the toss and chose to bowl under overcast skies on a helpful pitch.
Left-hander Abhinav Mukund (1) fended a lifter off the shoulder of the bat to gully where Marlon Samuels held a comfortable catch.
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy (1-52) provided the key scalp of first innings century-maker Rahul Dravid as India slumped to 8-2 inside the first hour.
Dravid (5) sparred at a good length delivery outside off stump and edged to wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh.
Laxman and opener Murali Vijay battled hard to fight off the West Indian seamers and shared a stand of 30 in 15 overs.
But Rampaul returned just before lunch to put the West Indies further on top.
Vijay spent 75 balls and 112 minutes over 11 runs before he gloved a leg-side catch to Baugh from the first ball of Rampaul’s second spell.
Two balls later, Rampaul sent Virat Kohli packing for a duck, the ball deflecting off the glove of the right-hander’s timid stroke to Sammy at second slip.
Laxman and Raina were dominant in the second session as their enterprising approach was rewarded.
Laxman, in his 122nd Test, arrived at his half century off 75 balls with a fine leg glance off Edwards for his eighth boundary
Raina, aged 24 and only in his 10th Test, followed his elder partner to fifty just before the break. He notched his milestone off 90 balls.
But West Indies clawed their way back after tea, claiming the final six wickets for 46 runs.
Bishoo broke the stand when Raina tried to swing to leg and provided a catch to short leg.
Raina compiled 53 off 105 balls.
Edwards added the scalp of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2) soon afterwards and the West Indies were into the tail. Dhoni scooped drive to mid-on.
Edwards and Bishoo ripped through the bottom order with Laxman eighth out when he slapped the leg-spinner straight to point.
Laxman batted just over four hours and struck 12 boundaries off 145 balls.
The West Indies stuttered in the final hour of the day and lost three of their top order as Ishant Sharma (1-8), Praveen Kumar (1-15) and Abhimanyu Mithun (1-7) struck decisively.
Sharma removed Adrian Barath, who sparred loosely outside off and deflected to gully.
Two runs later, it was 5-2 when Kumar found the edge of Lendl Simmons’ bat with a fine outswinger.
Darren Bravo also fell before close, feathering a catch to Dhoni in the final over of the day.
Ramnaresh Sarwan (10 not out) and nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo (0 not out) survived to stumps.(AP)