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Jaffer slams 212, Dhoni goes berserk, Windies set 392-run target

Written by: Staff
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St John's, Antigua, June 6: Wasim Jaffer's maiden double ton and MS Dhoni's late blitzkrieg put India firmly in command as the underperforming top order finally found their mojo and set the West Indies a victory target of 392 runs on the penultimate day of the first Test match here.

In reply, the hosts reached 13 for no loss in five overs with Chris Gayle on two and Darren Ganga on 10.

After heavy shower last evening, more downpur has been predicted and that can play spoilsport on the final day's proceedings.

Earlier, led by a delightful 212 by Jaffer and a quickfire 69 off just 51 balls by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India declared their second essay at 521 for six, setting West Indies a winning target of 392 runs.

Jaffer played some beautiful shots on his way to 150 even though his start was less than convincing.

The Mumbai batsman, in second over of the day, edged a Dwayne Bravo delivery that just missed the reach of a diving Chris Gayle.

Jaffer soon overcame the jitters and drove a beautiful cover drive for four in the same over to add to his overnight score. The right-hander looked in imperious touch and after a exquisite straight drive past the bowler, it was a sweetly timed on drive for four that also raised his 150.

Jaffer drove and cut with aplomb as the West Indies players' shoulders drooped against his onslaught. Runs came quickly, but there was no sign of rash stroke-play. Jaffer played with a straight bat and regularly found the gaps with his orthodox batting.

Corey Collymore, coming from far end, tested Jaffer a bit with some movement outside off stump just before lunch but to no avail.

Rahul Dravid proved an excellent foil to Jaffer as he kept rotating the strike with singles.

Dravid also completed his 1000 Test runs against the West Indies.

Jaffer and Dravid added 93 runs in the first session without getting separated.

West Indies sorely missed the services of Fidel Edwards who could not play due to the hamstring pull he had incurred on Sunday.

Jaffer's knock took India to commanding position by tea. Two wickets fell in the session between lunch and tea, but India added 70 more runs to take the total to 378 for four. Slight shower at lunch delayed the start of second session's play by 20 minutes.

After resumption of play, Jaffer continued from where he left at lunch and looked in good form. West Indies bowlers peppered him with short ones, but with Edwards not in action the bowlers were too slow to trouble Jaffer in full flow. The batsmen cut Ian Bradshaw and Bravo to back-ward point boundary for fours. West Indies skipper Brian Lara introduced chinaman bowler Dave Mohammad from the other end, but his leg-stump line was aptly dealt with by Jaffer on to the mid wicket boundary on more than one occasion.

Jaffer and Dravid added 200 runs for third wicket. Jaffer was on 199 when Dravid, his companion for 203-run partnership departed.

Trying to force scoring rate, Dravid top-edged a swipe off Mohammad to square leg boundary and was out caught. Dravid made 62 of 177 balls and hit just two fours.

Jaffer completed his double ton by tapping Mohammad to square leg for a quick single. He took 380 balls to reach there and scored more than fifty per cent of the Indian total by then.

However, Jaffer didn't last long after his double century and was cleaned bowled by Bradshaw for 212. He faced 399 balls and hit 24 fours and one six on his way to the big score.

Fall of Yuvraj Singh after tea saw Dhoni walking in to bat and his arrival brought some urgency to Indian scoring. With spinners operating from both the ends, Dhoni took no time to find the boundaries. He dealt with fours, but only for a while. Dave Mohammad who had VVS Laxman (31) and Dravid's wickets while they started scoring wasn't that lucky against the brute power of Dhoni.

Dhoni first hit Mohammad across the line for a six that cleared mid-wicket. He followed it with another one that went even further.

Dhoni hit one more six off Mohammad the next over to keep the momentum going.

The three sixes didn't deter Lara from persisting with Mohammad.

But by this time Dhoni knew that declaration was round the corner and Mohammad was to pay heavy price.

Mohd Kaif ran a quick single in the first ball to give strike to Dhoni. Mohammad bowled on to middle and leg stump and huge bottom handed heave sent the ball over long on for six.

Dhoni hit two sixes, over long on and long leg the next two balls to stretch the Indian lead. This was not be the end of the drama that captivated a crowd of two-and-half-thousand-odd watching the game at Antigua Recreation Centre.

In the very next ball, Dhoni went down the track and hoisted it over mid wicket. Darren Ganga took the catch at boundary but seemed to touch the ropes. TV replays didn't make the situation any clear.

But the fielder said he had completed the catch and after 15 minutes of confusion, Dhoni was declared out.

Dhoni made 69 of 51 balls with four fours and six sixes.

UNI

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