Kingston (Jamaica): Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit a patient 55 not out under pressure to boost West Indies' chances of setting a stiff fourth-innings target for India in the fifth and final Test on Monday.
The prolific left-hander put on 84 crucial runs with tailenders as the West Indies reached 165 for seven at stumps on the third day for an overall lead of 375 with three wickets in hand. Earlier, India lost its last six wickets for 44 before being shot out for 212 in reply to the West Indies' 422 despite a solid unbeaten 65 from Venkatsai Laxman. With the West Indies not enforcing the follow on, India fought back gallantly through commendable efforts from fast bowlers Zaheer Khan (three for 60) and Javagal Srinath (two for 39) before running into Chanderpaul, who has so far scored 558 in seven innings against the tourists.
West Indies was in trouble at 81 for five before the consistent left-hander came to his team's rescue with his rock-like defence and immense determination under testing conditions. Chanderpaul put on 36 for the sixth wicket with Ridley Jacobs (16) and 43 for the unbroken eighth with Pedro Collins (four not out) on a day when each run put pressure on India. He has so far batted 165 minutes for his second successive half-century, hitting just three fours.
The 27-year-old Guyanese received valuable support from Collins, who batted 85 minutes after Zaheer and Srinath had threatened to put India back into the match with their impressive opening spells. Srinath rocked the top order and Zaheer the middle to provide their team a glimmer of hope. India's position could have been better had first-slip Rahul Dravid not dropped Jacobs off Zaheer on one in a total of 88. Fast bowlers hogged the limelight on a pitch where the ball paused before coming on to the bat, grabbing 11 of the 13 wickets that fell this day. Zaheer and Srinath gave the West Indies a dose of their own medicine after fast bowler Mervyn Dillon had triggered an Indian collapse with a career-best haul.
Zaheer got the big wicket when he uprooted Brian Lara's off stump with a fuller- length delivery that cut back to surprise the left-hander. Lara had begun to look dangerous before he fell, hitting three boundaries in a 45- ball 35 in his last innings of the series in which he scored only 202 in five Tests. He was not the only batsman to get out playing one shot too many on a pitch of variable bounce. Srinath gave India a dream start when he removed openers Chris Gayle and first innings century-maker Wavell Hinds (6) in the space of seven runs. Hinds was held at second slip by Laxman, while Gayle was caught driving by skipper Saurav Ganguly at gully.
Zaheer chipped in an important wicket when he removed a consistent Ramnaresh Sarwan (6), who was caught driving in the covers by Shiv Das. Earlier, Dillon had carved out a fine opening for his team to win the five-Test series currently tied at 1-1 with a sharp opening spell, accounting for Ganguly (36), Ajay Ratra (3) and Harbhajan Singh (4). Laxman alone defied the West Indies pace attack with his sensible batting, but received no support as wickets kept falling from the other end. He farmed the bowling for 44 minutes after nine wickets had fallen for 197, but could not help his team cross the follow on mark of 223 as Ashish Nehra failed to beat a Sarwan direct hit to the striker's end while trying to give his partner the strike.
The stylish middle-order batsman struck seven fours in his 152-ball knock to extend his impressive form on the tour, having so far scored 451 with the help of a hundred and four half-centuries. Laxman failed to upstage Dillon, who wrecked India's hopes with his pace, bounce and movement to finish with the second five-wicket haul in 26 Tests. His only five- wicket effort before this match came in 1997-98, when he bagged five for 111 against Pakistan at Karachi.
Dillon started the slide with the dismissal of Ganguly, who was beaten by the movement and caught by Jacobs after adding 14 to his overnight score of 22. There was no respite for the lower-order Indian batsmen as Dillon kept a tidy line and length. His next two victims were Ratra and Harbhajan, who were caught by Hinds at forward short-leg while fending off rising deliveries.