Mumbai: Half-centuries by the top four batsmen helped West Indies finish the opening day of the third and final Test against India at a solid 267/2 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.
After the 137-run opening partnership between Adrian Barath (62) and Kraigg Brathwaite (68), Kirk Edwards (65) and Daren Bravo (57) weaved an unfinished 117-run stand for the third wicket.
R Ashwin was the pick of the Indian bowlers, picking both the wickets that fell on the first day.
The scorecard could have read a little different had VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, the two safest catchers in the Indian line-up, not dropped sitters off Brathwaite and Bravo respectively.
Earlier, rather unexpectedly, India decided to give the in-form Umesh Yadav a rest while handing the much touted fast bowler Varun Aaron a chance to prove his worth before booking his place for the all important tour of Australia. Virat Kohli filled the No. 6 spot left vacant by Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped after a mediocre performance in the first two Tests.
West Indies were also forced to make two changes. Their most experienced player Shivnarine Chanderpaul missed out with a calf strain, while fast bowler Kemar Roach was left out after going down with a stomach illness. Kieran Powell and Ravi Rampaul replaced Chanderpaul and Roach respectively.
After the visitors opted to bat first, Barath and Brathwaite started the innings cautiously, playing out the new ball and scoring only if loose balls were offered.
The Wankhede pitch, which was said to be livelier than the pitches in Delhi and Kolkata, turned out be a flat deck. It hardly provided any assistance to the Indian bowlers until Ashwin got the wicket of Barath.
Ashwin's offbreak bounced from a length, took an inside edge before hitting the pad and went into the hands of Dhoni to send Barath back for a well-compiled 62 off 148 balls. It could have been two down if Laxman had held on to a catch offered by Brathwaite off the same bowler earlier. And just like his opening partner Barath, Brathwaite too departed in a similar fashion; only the catcher this time was Kohli, fielding at short-leg.
But that was the last time India tasted success on the first day, as both Edwards and Bravo didn't allow the Indian bowlers to get on top in the final session.
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