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R Ashwin Removes Brathwaite With Sumptous Delivery, Gritty West Indies Reach 174/3 at Tea on Day 3

Ravichandran Ashwin produced the delivery of the series to breach a dogged Kraigg Brathwaite’s defence as West Indies crawled to 174 for 3 at tea against India on the third day of the second Test, here on Saturday.

West Indies skipper Brathwaite (75 off 235 balls) used his enormous powers of concentration to frustrate the Indian attack on an insipid track before world’s No. 1 Test bowler held the centre stage with a magical moment that brought the smiles back in Indian camp.

The track on offer here is a poor advertisement for Test cricket and if it gets any rating other than ‘Average’ from ICC that will be a real surprise.

If West Indies were indiscreet in their shot selection in the opening Test, the home team batters were over-cautious and a lifeless pitch helped their negative approach and a draw seems an inevitability.

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Toiling for close to 73 overs on a track which at best can be called ‘dead’, Ashwin (30-10-57-1) got delivery that had flight and required inward drift which was good enough to entice Brathwaite to plonk his front-foot for his umpteenth defensive prod.

But to his horror, the ball turned sharply, an off-spinner’s dream delivery that went between bat and pad to hit the stumps.

A compact defensive player, Brathwaite’s only fault was pushing his bat ahead of his pad allowing the ball to exploit the gap to the fullest.

The dismissal came just when Brathwaite and an equally stodgy Jermaine Blackwood (16 off 89 balls) brought their ultra-defensive ‘A’ game to the fore adding only 40 runs in 21 overs in the post-lunch session.

The Queens Park Oval track has literally nothing in it for bowlers and with West Indies batters intent to block more deliveries, creating chances became all the more difficult.

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Having lost better part of the first session to rain, Indian bowlers were left high and dry with the track not showing considerable wear and tear.

The figures of Ravindra Jadeja (19-10-19-1) was an indication enough that defending wasn’t difficult as he hardly bowled any wicket-taking deliveries.

Ashwin also had his moments of frustration when he over-flighted a few deliveries and was dispatched to the boundary.

In the morning session, debutant Mukesh Kumar was rewarded for his nagging channel bowling as his maiden wicket in the form of fellow debutant Kirk McKenzie.

Bowling a line which is right on off-stump or shade outside of it, Mukesh bowled a delivery on fuller side with not enough room to cut which McKenzie (32 off 57 balls) edged it to Ishan Kishan for a regulation catch.

McKenzie, who hit four boundaries and a six, looked in fine touch and played with a lot of purpose during his 57-ball stay.

With the pitch not having any purchase for either spinners or pacers, it has indeed been a hard toil for the Indian bowlers so far.

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However, one man who would be itching to get into the wickets column will be veteran Saurashtra left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat.

The domestic workhorse undoubtedly is the weakest link in the Indian bowling attack as he has so far given away 32 runs in 12 wicket-less overs so far.

More than not getting the wickets, Unadkat hasn’t even looked incisive enough to create problems for Brathwaite, who has a compact defensive game.

The lack of pace and not having enough movement off the surface meant that Unadkat was the easiest bowler to negotiate.

With the next series in South Africa, Unadkat with two wicket-less Tests in the West Indies might find it extremely difficult to hold onto his place in the squad.

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The difference between him and Mukesh has been the length that the Bengal pacer found which is slightly fuller despite both of them bowling at the same pace.

There is also that slight hint of movement inward or outward that can cause confusion for batters while Unadkat’s stock delivery is one that is pushed across the right-handers, which is quite predictable.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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