Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia: Bhuvneshwar Kumar demolished the West Indies first innings as India resuscitated their victory prospects following the third day washout by dismissing the home side for 225 on the fourth day of the third Test at the Darren Sammy National Stadium in St Lucia on Friday.
Building on a first-innings advantage of 128 after the home side lost their last seven wickets for 23 runs in the afternoon session, the tourists reached stumps at 157 for three for an overall lead of 285 runs going into the final day.
An unbroken 85-run fourth-wicket partnership between Ajinkya Rahane (51 not out) and Rohit Sharma (41 not out) ensured India remained firmly in control despite losing early wickets in pursuit of quick runs.
Playing his first match of the series, Kumar snared five for 33 off 23.4 overs with his eachway seam and swing — his third five-wicket innings haul in Test cricket — to trigger a collapse after the West Indies seemed to be cruising along at 202 for three just after lunch.
Only wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich, dropped twice off Kumar and eventually last out for 18 to the same bowler, managed to get into double figures among the last six in the home side’s batting order.
Wicketless through the first 15 overs of his effort in the match, Kumar initiated the domino-like collapse when he had Jermaine Blackwood caught by Indian captain Virat Kohli at slip for 20 to break a 67-run fourth-wicket stand with fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels.
Samuels followed in Kumar’s next over, bowled by an inswinger for 48. It proved to be last bit of meaningful resistance from the West Indies batting as wickets tumbled in quick succession. None in the lower order were able to cope with the fast-medium bowler’s probing accuracy on a pitch showing little sign of deterioration.
A draw looked the most likely result at the start of play with the West Indies well poised at 107 for one and the overnight pair of opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo seeking to make full use of the improved weather to play their team to safety.
However both were dismissed within the first hour to keep India entertaining thoughts of a series-clinching victory.
Not for the first time, Bravo fell to a short-pitched delivery, miscuing a hook off fast bowler Ishant Sharma to be caught by Ravindra Jadeja on the fine-leg boundary for 29. There was a moment of contention though when television replays seemed to suggest that Sharma had delivered a no-ball although television official Gregory Brathwaite ruled the effort to be legitimate.
There was more Indian celebration when Brathwaite fell shortly after, caught down the leg-side by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. His typically patient innings of 64 occupied 164 deliveries and included six fours.