Laxman builds an Indian fightback

West Indies 427; India 108-1
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India made an unflustered and solid response to the West Indies first innings 427, overcoming a few early alarms before the opener VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid frustrated the West Indies fast bowlers on a lifeless pitch.

Laxman, a 24-year-old right hander from Hyderabad pushed into the difficult opening position for the first time in only his fifth test was 54 and Dravid, who first came to international attention in the series in England last summer was 28 in an unbeaten partnership of 76.

The West Indies tried all four of their fast bowlers and their two occasional spinners, Carl Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul but they made no impression after the opening overs when Laxman and his experienced partner Navjot Sidhu were fortunate to survive three narrow shaves before Ian Bishop trapped Sidhu leg-before.

Earlier, Hooper had transformed his overnight 87 into his seventh Test 100 before losing concentration 10 minutes before lunch and lofting a catch to mid-off from the new fast bowler Abey Kuruvilla's well disguised slower delivery. Hooper's 129 took four hours 35 minutes and he collected 17 boundaries with his characteristic elegance. But he was not quite at his commanding best.

India's established leg-spinner, Anil Kumble, wicketless for 21 overs on the opening day, removed five of the last six batsmen. Hooper was the only victim to fall at the opposite end.

He had nightwatchman Ian Bishop caught at mid-off after he and Hooper had batted through the first hour and 25 minutes and then claimed Junior Murray lbw.

After lunch Ambrose and the new fast bowler, the equally tall Franklyn Rose, delighted the small crowd with typically tail-end hitting but Kumble was not to be denied his eighth collection of five wickets in an innings.

(Second day; West Indies won toss)

WEST INDIES - First Innings

(Overnight: 300 for 4)

C L Hooper c Prasad b Kuruvilla 129

I R Bishop c Joshi b Kumble 24

R I C Holder not out 3

J R Murray lbw b Kumble 1

C E L Ambrose c Ganguly b Kumble 23

F A Rose not out 14

*C A Walsh b Kumble 4

Extras (lb9, nb8) 17

Total 427

Fall (cont): 5-357, 6-368, 7-370, 8-408, 9-423.

Bowling: Prasad 28-5-104-1; Kuruvilla 30-6-82-3; Kumble 42.4-5-120-5; Joshi 27-6-81-1; Ganguly 7-1-17-0;Laxman 3-0-14-0.

INDIA - First Innings

V V S Laxman not out 54

N S Sidhu lbw b Bishop 10

R S Dravid not out 28

Extras (4b, 2lb, 10nb) 16

Total (for 1) 108

To fall: 1-32.

To bat: *S R Tendulkar, S Ganguly, M Azharuddin, N R Mongia, A Kumble, S Joshi, A Kuruvilla, B K V Prasad.

Bowling: Ambrose 9-3-13-0; Bishop 10-3-25-1; Rose 6-1-25-0; Walsh 6-0- 12-0; Hooper 6-2-22-0; Chanderpaul 4-2-7-0.

Umpires: S Bucknor, M Kitchen.