x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wankhede wicket gets thumbs up from West Indies

Opener Kraigg Brathwaite scores a fifty to laud the wonderful batting conditions in Mumbai at the end of the first day of the third and final Test against India on Tuesday.

MUMBAI // The West Indies' top four made the most of ideal batting conditions at Wankhede Stadium and put their team on course for a big first innings total at the close of the first day in the third and final Test against India.

Kraigg Brathwaite (68) and Adrian Barath (62) gave the visitors an ideal start with a 137-run opening stand on an easy-paced pitch in the hope of avoiding a 3-0 series clean sweep.

Kirk Edwards (65 not out) and Darren Bravo (57 not out) then scripted an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 117 runs to further consolidate the West Indies' position and took the team to 267 for two wickets at the close on Tuesday.

"Early on with the new ball it was doing a bit but nothing significant. It's a good pitch. I will say it is the best pitch out of the all we have played on this tour," Brathwaite told reporters.

Ravichandran Ashwin, the India off-spinner, found enough turn before tea to account for both the right-handed opening batsmen, which turned out to be the only scalps in the day for the hosts.

Edwards, on 29, received a life when MS Dhoni, the India captain, floored a difficult caught behind opportunity off Virender Sehwag's bowling. Bravo, who made 136 in the second innings in the last Test in Kolkata, was also dropped on 33 by Rahul Dravid.

Both Edwards (10 fours) and Bravo (seven fours) made the most of their good fortune and took the attack to the Indian spinners.

Barath had looked solid in completing a second consecutive half-century after his 62 in the second innings in Kolkata, but departed when he edged Ashwin on to his pads for Dhoni to complete an easy catch.

Brathwaite, who hit eight fours, was dropped on 57 by VVS Laxman off Ashwin at backward short leg.

However, the 18 year old was dismissed in similar fashion to his fellow opener, clipping an Ashwin delivery off his pads to Virat Kohli at short leg.

"Playing against India in India … I mean, it's good to get two fifties against them. It has done good to my confidence," Brathwaite, who left school two months ago, said.

"As openers, me and Barath decided to look to get through the first hour without losing any wicket. We did that and from there we just said we will press on and we got a 50 partnership and then a 100. After lunch when we came back we thought we will give the team as best a start as possible."

India's pace bowlers, Ishant Sharma and debutant Varun Aaron, failed to extract much movement with the new ball, prompting Dhoni to introduce spinner Pragyan Ojha as early as the ninth over.

Ojha and Ashwin, however, initially proved ineffective against the dogged approach of the openers.

The second new ball, which Dhoni took in the 85th over of the day, also failed to bring any success for the pacemen.

Aaron felt it will be hard work for the bowlers over the next few days.

"It is a good cricket wicket. I feel there will be lot of runs scored in the next four days," he said.