Dhoni shines as India build lead over Windies


India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni led four batsmen with half centuries that put his side in a formidable position in the third Test against West Indies on Friday.
Dhoni, a struggler for most of the series, was unbeaten on 65, propelling India to 308 for six, replying to West Indies’ first innings total of 204 at stumps on the third day of the rain-hit game at Windsor Park.
Left-handed opener Abhinav Mukund supported with 62, V.V.S. Laxman scored 56 and Suresh Raina made 50.
The visitors took advantage of a West Indies attack hamstrung by an illness that sidelined fast bowler Ravi Rampaul to give their strongest batting performance of the series.
Dhoni added 103 for the sixth wicket with Raina either side of tea, taking the fire out a West Indies fightback which saw India reach 182 for five at the break.
The India captain reached his 50 from 96 balls, tapping a delivery from his opposite number Darren Sammy to mid-off for a single that also brought him his 3,000th Test run.
He has so far struck just three boundaries from 109 balls.
Raina brought his 50 up in 102 balls, working a delivery from Devendra Bishoo into square leg for a single.
But the left-hander fell in the very next over, when he was trapped lbw to Fidel Edwards in the first over with the second new ball, leaving India 275 for six. He hit three fours from 103 balls.
Earlier, Mukund and Laxman steadied India, carrying them to 102 for two lunch after losing Murali Vijay and Rahul Dravid.
Vijay’s poor form on this trip continued when he was caught behind off Fidel Edwards for five, and Dravid, whose 212 runs prior to the match was a series-high, was bowled by Sammy for the same score.
India were 18 for two but Laxman joined Mukund and they batted fluently to consolidate their side’s position.
Mukund reached his 50 from 132 balls, playing a delivery from Bishoo uppishly through mid-on off the back-foot for a single.
After lunch, India continued to pile on the runs and got to within sight of taking a first innings lead at tea.
However, three wickets – including Mukund and Laxman – jolted them and seemed to bring West Indies back into the game.
Mukund added 98 with Laxman either side of lunch before he was caught at forward short leg off Bishoo. He struck five fours from 149 balls.
Virat Kohli put on 52 for the fourth wicket with Laxman before he was caught behind down the leg-side off Sammy for 30.
Laxman boosted West Indian spirits when he was stumped in bizarre fashion for 56, becoming the ninth Test scalp for Shivnarine Chanderpaul, peddling his uncomplicated leg-spin.
The stylish Indian batsman struck three fours from 129 balls.
He reached his 50 from 113 balls with a pull off a short delivery from Bishoo, but he absentmindedly failed to keep his back-foot grounded, after leaving alone a delivery from Chanderpaul.
West Indies wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh effected the stumping, confirmed by the TV replay umpire.
India hold a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, following a 63-run victory inside four days in the first Test in Jamaica and a draw in the second Test in Barbados.
The visitors are looking to wrap up their second straight Test series victory over West Indies in the Caribbean.
They are also hoping to create history by becoming the first Indian side to win a Test and one-day international series in the Caribbean.