St Kitts, June 23:
Opener Chris Gayle lashed a boundary-studded 83 as West Indies dominated India on a rain-interrupted first day of the third Test at Warner Park on Thursday.
Electing to bat first, the home team reached 207-1 at the close despite the loss of the morning session due to a soggy outfield. Gayle peppered eight fours and five sixes off 127 balls to lead a sound West Indies effort. He and Daren Ganga laid the foundation for a formidable total in an opening stand of 143.
Ganga (64 not out) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (44 not out) continued the good work after Gayleâ€™s dismissal to fast bowler Munaf Patel. The right-handed duo added a further 64 unbroken for the second wicket.
Ganga, struggling for his place in the side, spent four hours and 18 minutes at the crease in a 187-ball effort. The Trinidadian hit six fours. Sarwan, scratchy early on, blossomed toward the end and counted eight fours off 79 balls.
Warner Park, the ninth Caribbean venue to host a Test, had to wait until after lunch to witness any action. Heavy overnight and early morning rain left the outfield drenched in parts and the entire first session was abandoned.
Once play began, Gayle and Ganga provided a solid start for the home team. The left-handed Gayle, after taking a half-hour to assess the good batting conditions, exploded with some typically powerful strokeplay. The 26-year-old Jamaican, in his 60th match, passed 4,000 Test runs with his first six and continued to attack the Indian bowlers.
Offspinner Harbhajan Singh, playing his first Test of the series, was harshly treated, conceding 42 runs from his first six overs. Gayle counted three of his five sixes off Harbhajan.
West Indies took tea at 108 without loss and was moving smoothly after the break when Patel struck a crucial blow. Gayleâ€™s off stump was emphatically sent cartwheeling as he left alone a delivery from Patel.
It gave India new momentum and Ganga and Sarwan had their share of alarms during the final hour and a half.