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India works through top order on truncated day

Shami leads the charge with the scalps of Samuels and Bravo as West Indies slumps to 48 for 4 in its second innings

India works through top order on truncated day - Cricket News
Rain wreaked havoc on the fourth day of the second Test between India and West Indies at Sabina Park. © Getty Images
When the sun reluctantly rose on a wet and windy Tuesday (August 2), there was little hope of any cricket at the Sabina Park in Kingston. Tropical Storm Earl, which had been lurking in the Caribbean Sea, developed overnight into a vivacious weather system and the meteorological department put out warnings for damaging winds, torrential rain and flash floods.
 
Fortunately for the people of Kingston, Earl did not show its true force while it drove through the region, passing south of Jamaica. Still, the attendant effects were felt considerably, with only 15.5 overs of play possible on a day when the ground staff were forced to earn their wages. Multiple times the covers came on and went off, the ground staff putting in a solid effort to keep the pitch and square dry. They did a tremendous job, but were, quite literally, up against a force of nature, and it was not a battle they were ever likely to win.
 
In the few overs that were possible on the fourth day of the second Test, however, India made deep inroads, reducing West Indies to 48 for 4 in its second innings and leaving it needing 256 more to avoid an innings defeat.


 
Mohammed Shami was breathing fire, his short deliveries rising viciously from a length and the skiddy fuller balls staying in the corridor outside off-stump. There was plenty of playing and missing, and Darren Bravo, in particular was all at sea. At the other end, Ishant Sharma, gypsy man bun flapping in the breeze, was not as consistent with his line and length as he was in the first innings.
 
Ishant struck first, Rajendra Chandrika doing his reputation as a Test batsman no good, attempting to leave a ball alone while hanging his hands out, outside the off-stump. The ball crashed into elbow and went straight into the stumps.
 
It was Amit Mishra who broke through next, bowling a near perfect first over. Landing the ball on a spot with great control and getting significant drift, Mishra induced a wild heave from Kraigg Brathwaite. Like a duke ousted from his chalet, Brathwaite was stunningly out of place trying to play the aggressive shot and the ball speared off the edge up into the air. KL Rahul judged well, ran back sure-footedly from mid-wicket and completed the catch.
 
Marlon Samuels has a tendency to sit on the back foot, especially early on his innings, and Shami sensed the weakness without having to be reminded. Samuels, who was perhaps playing his final Test innings at his home ground – he has neither confirmed nor denied talk of his impending retirement from the longest format – lasted all of five balls. Shami slanted one into Samuels, forcing the batsman to play but deceiving him into thinking the ball was coming in with the angle. It pitched and moved away just enough to beat the stroke, detonating the off-stump. Samuels, with his leaden-footedness, made the ball look much better than it was, but the fact remained that better batsmen than him would have little chance of keeping that one out.


 
Shami then pulled one out from the hymn sheet the fearsome West Indies quartet of yore used to sing from, a spiteful bouncer knifing Bravo. Hurriedly offering slanted bat in most unconvincing fashion, the second most experienced batsman in the West Indies line-up lobbed the ball to third slip where Rahul gleefully accepted the offering. At 48 for 4 at the stroke of lunch, the fielding team walked off very happily indeed.
 
Just when it was time to resume after lunch, it blew hard across the ground. Coming from the south east, laden with moisture, the remnants of Tropical Storm Earl deposited enough precipitation on Sabina Park to nourish a woodland, never mind a cricket ground.
 
The players waited in hope, and umpires undertook multiple inspections, but so much water soaked into the outfield and rested on the covers that there reached a point when there was no purpose in waiting around. At 3.40 pm local time, it was time to pack bags and retreat to the dry comfort of hotel rooms, returning early on the final morning of the Test, weather permitting. The forecast is for a clear day, and India has a minimum of 98 overs to pick up the six wickets it needs to complete victory. Given that West Indies has lost its four best in just 15.5 overs, even a staunch supporter of the maroon caps, armed with a weather report, would not bet on the scoreline reading anything but 2-0 in India’s favour when stumps are drawn on Wednesday.

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