India were 23 without loss in their second innings, a lead of 34, when bad light stopped play on the third day of the second Test against the West Indies at Kensington Oval on Thursday.
Earlier, a six-wicket haul from Ishant Sharma provided a platform for India to establish an upper hand over the West Indies when rain forced an early tea in the second Test on Thursday.
India reached 20 without loss in their second innings at tea, after Sharma had become the fifth youngest bowler ever to take 100 wickets. The spoilsport rain then came back to stop the proceedings but stopped to let India add three more run to their lead. The days play was then called off due to bad light.
Sharma captured a career-best six for 55 from 21.5 overs as the hosts were dismissed for 190, in response to India’s first innings total of 201, on the rain-affected third day.
Sharma collected his landmark scalp when he trapped West Indies captain Darren Sammy lbw for 15, triggering a collapse that saw the hosts lose their last three wickets for just four runs in the space of 12 deliveries.
The beanpole fast bowler generated sharp bounce from the lively Kensington Oval pitch, and made life uncomfortable for all the West Indies batsmen, including Marlon Samuels, whose unbeaten 78 was the top score.
Sharma had no success before lunch, when he struck both Samuels and veteran left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul on the helmet.
He also saw champion off-spinner Harbhajan Singh provide India with the breakthrough after the interval, when Carlton Baugh Jr was caught at slip for two, edging an ill-advised drive.
Things started to get out of hand when India’s bowlers began to get a little loose and Sammy and Samuels galloped West Indies closer to the lead with a stand of 43 for the eighth wicket.
Praveen Kumar almost stole Sharma’s moment when extra cover Suresh Raina failed to hold on to an overhead chance when Sammy was on 14.
But Sharma gained an lbw verdict with a delivery moving back and then served up two bouncers to Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards that were fended behind the stumps.
Abhimanyu Mithun struck a vital blow for India in the last five minutes before lunch, removing key batsman Chanderpaul, as West Indies reached 138 for six at the interval.
Mithun bowled Chanderpaul for a painstaking 37, ending the durable West Indies left-hander’s resistance that helped to prop his side up when they continued from their overnight total of 98 for five.
Mithun made the breakthrough after Chanderpaul and Samuels had added 77 for the sixth wicket following a hour’s delay due to rain.
India had West Indies reeling on 57 for five, but rain, as well as Chanderpaul and Samuels, initially prevented them from making further inroads into the hosts’ batting.
A delivery from Kumar was guided by Samuels between third slip and gully to third man for the first boundary of the morning, bringing up the 50-run partnership with Chanderpaul.
Mithun, however, ensured that India did not have to bear a fruitless toil when he got Chanderpaul to drag a short delivery into his stumps in the penultimate over before lunch.
India are looking to wrap up their second straight Test series victory over West Indies in the Caribbean.
They will also be looking to create a piece of history by becoming the first Indian side to win a Test and one-day international series in the Caribbean — but they will also have to overcome their poor history here.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team still have cause for optimism though — following a 10-wicket defeat for Sourav Ganguly’s side nine years ago, West Indies have lost six of the last eight Tests they have played at this venue.(AFP)