Earl, the tropical storm threatening Kingston, allowed for only 15.5 overs on the fourth day. In that time, India helped themselves to four wickets, suggesting all they needed was a session or two more to wrap up a Test victory. The forecast is better for cricket tomorrow and West Indies are trailing by 256 runs in their second innings.
An early start – at 9.30 am – had been scuppered by overnight rain leaving the outfield rather wet. When the players finally got on the field at 10.45 am only three overs were possible before a couple of sharp showers forced them back into the dressing rooms. A good chunk of the session was played amid a mild drizzle, which at one point got strong enough to halt play for about a minute before it disappeared into thin air.
West Indies felt tentative batting in these conditions. Not least because the heavy cloud cover was helping the new ball swing nicely. Mohammed Shami used it to his advantage, pitching one on middle and seaming it away to hit the top of Marlon Samuels’ off stump for a five-ball duck at his home ground. In his next over, with lunch only seconds away, Shami had Darren Bravo caught in the slips with a well-directed short ball.
Bravo lasted 37 balls, most of which were looking to maim his nose. He did not look to attack them. He struggled to defend them. He often took his eyes off them. Eventually he fell to one of them.
The weather was bad, which might have worried India but West Indies’ abysmal batting sent them to lunch with beaming smiles. There was no more play thereafter.
Although not as wide as India’s smiles, there were cracks on this pitch now, around the short-of-a-length area. Ishant Sharma is naturally a hit-the-deck bowler. When he did so at the start of his second over, it stayed low. Two balls later, however, it gained some extra bounce, hit Rajendra Chandrika’s elbow as he was trying to leave the ball outside off and cannoned onto his stumps. Chandrika made 1; his Test average is currently 14 after 10 innings. No West Indian opener has been as bad.
Kraigg Brathwaite had looked a lot better against the short ball. He cut and pulled at the first opportunity against the fast bowlers. Could he bat as well against spin? Virat Kohli brought Amit Mishra on in the 13th over. Mishra bowled one unintentionally short. Brathwaite played an awful pull shot – his feet not going back and across to generate power – and was caught excellently by KL Rahul running back from midwicket.
Kohli ran up to his bowler, his mouth open, his eyes wide, laughing. Mishra hugged his captain, bemusement on his face. Rain that started one minute and left the next. Batsmen who didn’t really know what to do. And bowlers who were taking wickets as easily as they snapped their fingers. It was all just a little silly for Test cricket.