Port of Spain (Trinidad): Fast bowler Zaheer Khan got the prize wicket of Brian Lara to boost India's hopes of gaining an upper hand over the West Indies in the second Test on Saturday.
Lara contributed 52 as the West Indies struggled to reach 197for six at stumps on the second day in reply to India's 339 at the Queen's Park Oval. Skipper Carl Hooper was batting on 30 and tail-ender Mervyn Dillon on six. Earlier, India collapsed to the West Indies pace after the early dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar as it lost its remaining six wickets for 63. The West Indies batting wobbled after the fall of Lara, edging left-arm seamer Zaheer to debutant wicket- keeper Ajay Ratra who brought off a low catch to his left. Veteran paceman Javagal Srinath then removed first-Test century-maker Shivnaraine Chanderpaul for one and wicket-keeper Junior Murray for nought in the same over to finish with an impressive three for 56. Both the batsmen were adjudged leg before as the hosts slipped from 179 for three to 180 for six. Lara hardly looked at his best during his 123-minute stay at the crease, struggling against off spinner Harbhajan Singh on a few occasions. He was involved in an engrossing duel with Harbhajan, who kept varying his line, length and flight to deny the left-hander freedom to play shots. Lara also survived a confident leg before appeal off Harbhajan when on 14 before fluently driving the spinner through the covers and then square of the wicket for two of his six fours in his 78-ball knock. Lara shared a 56-run stand for the third wicket with Ramnaresh Sarwan (35), who played an attractive cameo before throwing his wicket away. Sarwan attempted to drive left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra away from his body, giving a regulation catch to Rahul Dravid at first slip. Harbhajan bowled well in his first Test in the West Indies, removing a free stroking opener Stuart Williams (43) off the last ball before tea. Williams cracked eight fours in his 62-ball knock before being caught bat-pad by Shiv Das at forward short- leg. He batted aggressively, hitting Srinath for three fours in an over and then pulling Zaheer for two successive boundaries. Srinath provided the breakthrough when he had left-handed opener Chris Gayle caught by Das for 13. India did not find it easy to score runs after Tendulkar, who added just four to his overnight score of 113. Fast bowlers Cameron Cuffy, Adam Sanford and Marlon Black each bagged two wickets as the tourists were all out for 339 after being 276 for four. Venkat Sai Laxman was the lone batsman to offer resistance, scoring an unbeaten 69 for his 12th Test half-century. He struck 11 fours in his 123-ball knock. Cuffy and Sanford did the early damage when they shared four wickets in the morning session in the space of 22 runs after India had resumed at 262 for four. Black, taken off the field due to dehydration on Friday, returned to remove the last two batsmen to finish with three 53. Cuffy began the slide with the dismissal of Tendulkar, who equalled Australian Don Bradman's record of 29 Test centuries on Friday. He trapped the master batsman leg before with the one that cut in sharply. Tendulkar struggled during his brief stay at the crease, often playing and missing before being beaten by Cuffy. He hit 14 fours in his 260-ball knock. Laxman, who scored 69 in the drawn opening Test at Georgetown, played handsome strokes as he twice drove fast bowler Dillon through the covers for boundaries. He completed his second successive Test half-century with an attacking shot, pulling Sanford for a boundary. He, however, received little support from lower-order batsmen Ratra, Harbhajan and Zaheer. Cuffy greeted Ratra with a bouncer before having him caught by Murray for no score. Harbhajan spent 18 uncomfortable minutes, falling on the pitch while trying to fend off a Sanford bouncer and then hooking straight to Cuffy at deep fine-leg to depart without scoring. Sanford then got his third wicket of the innings when he bowled Zaheer middle stump for five.
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