Brittle Windies batting leaves them exposed

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India took a useful 164-run lead with seven wickets in hand at the end of the second day of the first Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park.

The West Indies were again let down by their batting as India claimed a healthy 164-run lead with seven wickets in hand at the end of the second day of the first Test at Sabina Park on Tuesday.

All of India's four-man attack pitched in as the home side were reduced to 173 all out, giving the tourists a first-innings lead of 73 runs before Rahul Dravid's characteristically determined knock saw India scrape their way to 91 for three at the close of play.

Praveen Kumar made major inroads with the ball in the morning session as he removed three batsmen in quick succession to leave the West Indies on 119 for three at lunch. The debutant was however forced out of the attack after being warned a third time by umpire Daryl Harper for running on the pitch in his follow-through.

The Windies middle and lower order failed to make the most of facing up to a three-man attack, as spin duo Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra each claimed two wickets, while Ishant Sharma finished with the innings' best figures of three for 29.

The lanky fast bowler had set the tone for the day as early as the second over when he produced a delivery that jagged back sharply to catch Ramnaresh Sarwan leg before. Sarwan was struck outside the line but umpire Ian Gould was wise to the fact that the Windies number three had not offered a shot, and sent him on his way.

Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo then set about patiently rebuilding the innings. MS Dhoni shuffled his bowlers around, Sharma operating in tandem with Harbhajan Singh and both bowlers were unfortunate to see chances go a-begging as Bravo first survived a dropped catch at slip by Suresh Raina off the lanky fast bowler, and then edged the off-spinner through the slip cordon for four.

The 21-year-old Barath meanwhile would go to his second Test half-century in style as lofted over mid-on for four and then blasted Amit Mishra for a massive six over the long on fence.

The opener's stubborn knock was however to end in the very next over as Kumar, who had just changed ends, produces a beauty that swung across the right-hander and caught the edge through to Dhoni.

Kumar then proved to be just as effective against the left-handed Bravo (18) who nibbled through to the Indian wicketkeeper, and Brendan Nash's (1) barren run continued as he became the debutant's third Test victim – getting a leading edge to Raina in the slip cordon. It took 14 deliveries for Praveen to remove all three batsmen, with the swing merchant conceding not a single run in that same period of play.

The 24-year-old's eventful day would continue as midway through the afternoon session he received a third official word from umpire Harper about running on the track, and he was disallowed from bowling again in the Windies first innings.

Being reduced to a three-member attack however proved less of a problem than India might have thought, as Harbhajan, Mishra and Ishant all took advantage of the West Indies' weak lower-order.

After sharing an encouraging 45-run stand with Chivnarine Chanderpaul, Carlton Baugh (27) was snared by way of a bat-pad catch off Harbhajan who soon had a second wicket when Chanderpaul (23) went in similar fashion.

Ishant meanwhile bowled Darren Sammy (1) before Mishra snared two wickets in three deliveries to removed Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo, forcing an early tea break for the change of innings.

With a handy first innings lead on a fast-deteriorating track, India then made a hesitant start to their second dig, losing opener Murali Vijay without a run on the board. Vijay was unfortunate to be caught lbw as a short ball from Ravi Rampaul skidded through low.

A measured stand of 56 between Abhinav Mukund and Dravid put India back in charge. Dravid was gifted a chance with his score on six as an edge off Rampaul was dropped by Sammy at second slip.

Despite losing Mukund (25) and VVS Laxman for a duck, Dravid would make the West Indies pay with a solid knock of 45 not out from 125 deliveries. Virat Kohli (14 not out) survived a short-pitched barrage at the death from Fidel Edwards and the pair will resume on day three with India in a very healthy position.

<b>Douglas Saxby</b>