India 241 & 215-2 West Indies 371: Jaffer hits hundred as West Indies falter without spearhead

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The Independent Online

Opener Wasim Jaffer's composed, unbeaten 113, his second Test hundred, and his successive partnerships of 72 with fellow opener Virender Sehwag, 75 with VVS Laxman and 68 with captain Rahul Dravid pulled India back into contention on the third day of the first Test yesterday.

On a pitch that has gradually lost its early encouragement for the bowlers and returned to the ARG's reputation as a batsman's delight, Jaffer was master throughout his chanceless four hours, 10 minutes as West Indies had to make do without Fidel Edwards, the spearhead of their attack who left the field in his sixth over with a strained right hamstring muscle.

Behind by an imposing 130 on first innings after the West Indies extended their overnight 318 for six to 371 in the first session, India erased the deficit with only one wicket down and were ahead by 85 at 215 for 2 when play ended.

Jaffer, a slim right-hander who has had only 11 Tests in six years since his debut, and Sehwag provided a solid foundation to the fightback. After Sehwag was out for 41, Jaffer and Laxman sent India into the lead. Laxman fell for 31 to an ambitious slog off left-arm wrist spinner Dave Mohammed but Jaffer never lost his composure, remaining with the phlegmatic Dravid to the close.

Edwards' injury was a significant setback for the West Indies. Generating 90mph pace, the West Indies equivalent of Sri Lanka's Malinga the Slinger produced a hostile, bodyline attack but the effort took its toll and Edwards pulled up, grasping the back of his right thigh after three balls of his sixth over.

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