Jaffer leads India fightback

St Kitts, June 25 :

Opening batsman Wasim Jaffer hit a half-century and shared two vital stands to help India make a strong reply in the third Test against West Indies at Warner Park here on Saturday.

Jaffer scored 60, as India, replying to West Indies first innings total of 581, reached 150-2 when stumps were drawn on the third day. Jaffer struck 10 boundaries from 101 balls before he was caught at second slip off Dwayne Bravo in the final hour before the close.

Jaffer shared 61 for the first wicket with fellow opener Virender Sehwag (31) and added 63 for the second with Venkatsai Laxman to lay a solid platform for the Indians.

Laxman was not out on 28 and Indian captain Rahul Dravid was not out on 20 at the close, after the visitors had collected the last five West Indies first innings wickets for 19 runs in the space of 33 balls.

West Indies had continued to attack for most of the morning with Shivnarine Chanderpaul being left stranded on unbeaten 97 and Marlon Samuels with 87 leading their charge.

Off-spin bowler Harbhajan Singh however, snared four of the last five West Indies scalps to end with 5-147 runs from 44 overs. Munaf Patel supported with 3-134 from 32 overs and Shantha Sreesanth and Sehwag snared one wicket apiece.

India then lost Sehwag after making a brisk start to their first innings to reach 64-1 at tea. Sehwag was caught at second slip edging a flat-footed drive at a delivery in Corey Collymore’s first over.

It was the only success for West Indies before the break, and after the break, Jaffer and Laxman settled down to play some enterprising strokes either side of the wicket.

Jaffer reached his 50, when he square drove Collins for his eighth boundary, but driving loosely at Bravo gave West Indies their second success.

The four-Test series is still level at 0-0, after the first two Tests at the Antigua Recreation Ground and the Beausejour Cricket Ground ended in tense draws.

The series concludes at Kingston’s Sabina Park from June 30 to July 4.