Debutant Ashwin turns the tide
Ravichandran Ashwin returned second-innings figures of 6-47 as India gained control of the first Test against West Indies with a spirited fightback on day three in Delhi.
After conceding a first-innings deficit of 95 yesterday, India were indebted to a superb performance from Ashwin as they dismissed the tourists, who had resumed on 21 for two, for just 180 in their second innings.
In completing match figures of 9-128, Ashwin registered the second best analysis by an Indian on Test debut and the Windies would have been in further trouble had the last three wickets not added 96.
At stumps, the hosts had made good progress towards a target of 276, reaching 152 for two with the aid of another aggressive half-century from Virender Sehwag.
The opener made 55 for the second time in the match, this time at a run a ball, before Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar - the two highest scorers in Test history - saw their side through to the close with an unbroken stand of 57.
Dravid will resume tomorrow on 30, having survived a tight run-out decision shortly before the close, while Tendulkar - who continues to seek an historic 100th international hundred - became the first batsman to reach 15,000 Test runs during his innings of 33 not out.
Having worked so hard to establish a position of strength over the first two days, the Windies quickly ceded their advantage today by losing wickets at regular intervals throughout the morning session.
Nightwatchman Fidel Edwards made just one before being caught behind off Ishant Sharma and Darren Bravo almost departed for a duck later in the same over, only for Ashwin to spill a chance at extra-cover.
Bravo and Kirk Edwards took the score beyond 50, but the latter soon became the first Test victim of fast bowler Umesh Yadav when he shouldered arms to a delivery that angled in and took out off stump.
Ashwin then took centre stage, trapping Bravo leg before for 12 and bowling Marlon Samuels for nought with a carrom ball in a double wicket-maiden that left the Windies reeling on 63 for six.
That became 84 for seven when Carlton Baugh drove at one slanted across him from Yadav and provided Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a simple catch.
First-innings centurion Shivnarine Chanderpaul and skipper Darren Sammy at least helped the Windies to a respectable total with counter-attacking innings of 47 and 42 respectively.
It was Ashwin who accounted for each batsman, winning an lbw verdict against Chanderpaul before cleaning up Sammy, who struck five fours and a powerful straight six off Ishant, with another carrom ball.
Ravi Rampaul also collected a maximum off Pragyan Ojha, but the innings was brought to an end when the tailender attempted another slog-sweep off Ashwin and picked out deep midwicket.
Faced with a brief eight-over session before tea, India’s openers once again adopted an aggressive approach at the top of the order and Sehwag enjoyed a stroke of good fortune on 12 when Rampaul failed to take a low return chance.
The Windies did make a breakthrough early in the evening session when Gautam Gambhir fell lbw to a flatter delivery from Samuels, but Sehwag continued to find the boundary with regularity, thumping five fours and two sixes in total.
His flamboyant innings came to a timid end when, looking to cut with minimal movement of the feet, he played on to a wide delivery from Sammy.
Yet the reliable pairing of Dravid and Tendulkar ensured there were no further setbacks as they accumulated steadily for the remainder of the day.
There was one let-off for Dravid before stumps. He was guilty of a rare lapse in concentration as he dawdled through for a single and could consider himself lucky to be reprieved by a marginal third umpire decision.