North Sound (Antigua), July 25 (IANS) Star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took India closer to victory with a five-wicket haul that left West Indies struggling at 201/8 at tea on the fourth day of the first cricket test here on Sunday.
At the break, Carlos Braithwaite (38 not out) and Devendra Bishoo (32 not out) were engaged in a desperate battle with the Indian bowlers as they sought to postpone what seems to be an inevitable innings defeat.
West Indies were trailing by 122 runs at the break.
Ashwin decimated the West Indies’ middle-order in the post-lunch session to boast figures of 5/72 at tea and leave the hosts tottering on the brink of defeat.
The Chennai off-spinner made good use of the conditions to extract appreciable turn from the pitch and was helped along by some poor application by the West Indies batsmen.
Marlon Samuels (50) was the highest scorer among the hosts before Ashwin sent him on his way with a delivery that spun lethally to beat the outside edge before hitting the stumps.
Braithwaite and Bishoo however, duo displayed copious amounts of patience and application — qualities sadly missing in their top order colleagues — to frustrate the Indian bowlers.
Bishoo even hit Ashwin over the mid-wicket boundary for a six a couple of overs before tea to offer some much needed cheer to the home crowd.
Earlier, the West Indies continued their battle during the rain-shortened morning session.
Opening batsman Rajendra Chandrika and Samuels forged a 67-run stand following the dismissal of Darren Bravo early in the morning.
The match was halted due to rain half an hour before the end of the first session, forcing an early lunch, as the West Indies, who were on Saturday bowled out for 243 in their first essay, were battling to avert an innings defeat.
Resuming the day at 21/1, the West Indies received a big blow in the first over of the day when left-handed overnight batsman Bravo edged an away-moving delivery from pacer Umesh Yadav to wide third slip fielder Ajinky Rahane, who dived low to his left to pluck a brilliant catch.
It was just the start the Virat Kohli-led visitors wanted and the wicket further boosted their confidence.
However, the home batting duo of Chandrika and Samuels came out with strong resistance to deny India any more wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium.
While Chandrika was all about doggedness and determination as he played 84 deliveries for 22 not out, Samuels, 35, showed the way for the West Indies with attacking intent.
Samuels took the attack to the opposition and hit 11 boundaries among the 85 deliveries he faced.
Indian pacer Ishant Sharma tested him early with rising deliveries but he fended them with determination — twice spanking them through the covers for fours.
Indian bowlers also made the fault of bowling much outside the off stump as Samuels and Chandrika found them comfortable.
Samuels cotnied with an off-drive and a punch towards the covers of Mohammed Shami and later punished Ashwin with three fours in a single over, making the best use of experience and feet movement.
Brief scores: India: 566/8; West Indies: 243 and 201/8 (Marlon Samuels 50,ACarlos Braithwaite 38 not out, Devendra Bishoo 32 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 5/72, Ishant Sharma 1/27).