KINGSTON, Jamaica: India moved into the ascendancy after the first day of the opening test against West Indies on Tuesday, routing the hosts for 173 and then reaching 91-3 for an overall lead of 164 runs.
Led by Rahul Dravid’s resolute 45 not out in 2 hours, 40 minutes at Sabina Park that contained five boundaries, India is well placed to strike the first blow in the three-test series.
Earlier, new ball partners Ishant Sharma (3-29) and Praveen Kumar (3-38) ripped through the hosts after they resumed on 34-1.
Spinners Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh had identical figures of 2-51 to run through the lower order.
West Indies opener Adrian Barath hit a sparkling 64 but no other batsman passed 30 as the hosts wasted a good opportunity in replying to India’s modest 246.
The 6-foot-7 Sharma, who had claimed Lendl Simmons late on the first day, added a second wicket with his first ball of the day, trapping Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw for 3 after playing no stroke to an inswinger.
Barath and fellow Trinidadian Darren Bravo fought back gamely in a third-wicket stand of 56 before the 24-year-old Kumar, on debut, shifted the momentum.
Barath reached his 50 off 116 balls with his eighth four, a lofted on-drive off the leg-spin of Mishra. The pint-sized opener lashed the next ball into the stands in the same area.
But Kumar soon ended the blossoming partnership.
Running in with the George Headley Stand at his back, Kumar claimed Barath when he nibbled at an outswinger and was nicely caught by a diving Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps. Barath hit eight fours and a six off 122 balls in 169 minutes.
In his next over, Kumar removed the left-handed Bravo in similar fashion, Dhoni again claiming a nick to a tentative defensive stroke. Bravo struck two fours in 18 off 56 balls.
Kumar further reduced the West Indies to 102-5 when Brendan Nash (1) tried to whip through the leg side but sliced an edge to Suresh Raina at third slip.
The experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul and wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh revived the hosts after the lunch break, as Kumar suffered the ignominy of being removed from the attack for running on the pitch in his follow-through for the third time.
The pair carried their sixth-wicket stand to 45 before Harbhajan made the crucial breakthrough when Baugh was caught off pad and bat by silly point. The right-hander hit two fours and a six in 27 off 35 balls.
Captain Darren Sammy fell one run later when he tried to whip Sharma through the leg side and was bowled off his pads.
Harbhajan also claimed Chanderpaul, who spent 105 minutes compiling 23 off 75 balls. The left-hander was caught off a deflection to short leg from bat and pad to make it 152-8.
Ravi Rampaul (14 not out) tried to rally the tail but Mishra wrapped up the innings on the stroke of tea with the wickets of Fidel Edwards (7) and Devendra Bishoo (4) within three balls.
Edwards tried to cut a googly and edged to Dhoni, while Bishoo picked out midwicket with a pull shot.
West Indies hit back in the final session as Rampaul trapped Murali Vijay for a duck with a ball that kept a bit low.
Rampaul should have added the scalp of Dravid but the 151-test veteran survived a chance on 6 when he was dropped at second slip by Sammy.
Dravid added 56 for the second wicket with opener Abhinav Mukund (25), who was also making his debut.
West Indies rebounded with two quick wickets as Bishoo claimed Mukund and Sammy held a fine return catch to remove V.V.S. Laxman without scoring to make it 57-3.
But Dravid continued to show broad-batted certainty, steering the team to the close with Virat Kohli (14 not out), who survived a late bouncer barrage from Fidel Edwards.(AP)