Controversy and confusion over a disputed catch that ended a typically explosive Mahendra Singh Dhoni innings took some of the gloss off Wasim Jaffer's 212 against the West Indies that swung the balance back to India on the first Test's fourth day here yesterday.
Wicketkeeper Dhoni, one of the game's fiercest hitters, had clouted the left-arm spinner Dave Mohammed for three successive sixes in the over when, trying a fourth, he was caught on the midwicket boundary by Daren Ganga. When the incident was referred to third umpire, Billy Doctrove, replays were inconclusive as to whether Ganga had stepped on the boundary rope and the on-field umpires, Simon Taufel and Asad Rauf spent 10 minutes deciding what to do when Dhoni, under animated persuasion from some home players, accepted Ganga's word that the catch was legal.
Dhoni's 69 off 51 balls included six sixes, all off Mohammed whose last 12 deliveries went for 41. Captain Rahul Dravid, who shared a third-wicket partnership of 203 with Jaffer, declared at 521 for 6, challenging the West Indies to score 392 for victory on the final day.
Before Dhoni's pyrotechnics, an extended spell of controlled left-arm seam bowling by Ian Bradshaw and their own reticence prevented India from capitalising on their position set up by Jaffer and Dravid, whose 62 took nearly five hours. It was only after Bradshaw was replaced after 25 consecutive overs off which he conceded 47 runs and ended Jaffer's marathon innings of eight hours, 20 minutes, that India accelerated, aided by three missed catches.
With 92 overs available today, the West Indies need 379 for an unlikely win but this ground is famous for its batting records, among them the West Indies winning total of 418 for 7 against Australia three years ago and Brian Lara's Test scores of 375 in 1994 and 400 not out in 2004.