Ishant Sharma was destroyer-in-chief once again while Harbhajan Singh celebrated his 400th Test wicket as the West Indies were bowled out for 204 on day two in Dominica.
Darren Bravo and Carlton Baugh were the only batsmen to mount any resistance for the home side as they each posted encouraging half-centuries, but with scant little support the West Indies again disappointed with their batting to finish well below par on a decent Windsor Park track.
India then began their response after tea but the umpires called the covers on just four overs into the tourists first innings, moments before a major shower hit Roseau with no further play possible in the evening session – only 49 overs being possible throughout the entire day.
The two Indian marksmen – Ishant and Harbhajan – were the heroes of the day, one for his milestone and the other for his red-hot form with 21 wickets now in only five innings in the series.
It was, however, Munaf Patel who made the initial strike in the morning for the tourists after the unhelpful weather had delayed the start of play by 45 minutes.
After the players emerged the hosts added just nine runs before Patel removed Shivnarine Chanderpaul (23) – the left-hander once again falling in the 20s – caught behind by MS Dhoni on his 30th birthday.
Marlon Samuels was the other batsman to fall before lunch, putting himself out of his own uncertain misery when he chopped a Praveen Kumar delivery onto his stumps.
The right-hander had looked uncomfortable against the short ball and generally indecisive about life, and it cost him his wicket as he showed why they call it the ‘corridor of uncertainty’.
Darren Bravo was the polar opposite to Samuels, playing with authority throughout the session as he left well and drove attractively when the opportunity presented itself, he and Baugh taking the home side to Lunch on 128 for five.
After the interval Baugh and Bravo launched a counter-attack that livened up the game with Ishant hit for 15 in his very first over after the break. The plucky West Indian wicketkeeper then took three fours off one Munaf over as the home side quickly bulked up their lightweight total.
Bravo would get to fifty – his second in as many innings – before he edged through to Rahul Dravid in the slips. With the catch taken low to the ground the decision was sent to the third umpire but replays were inconclusive and the batsman got the benefit of the doubt.
Two balls later however and Sharma had his man, Dhoni accepting a faint edge to bring an end to a fluent 59-run stand.
Despite losing his partner, Baugh continued his attacking approach and took the pressure off Darren Sammy – the Windies skipper looked comfortable at the crease and hit a quick-fire 20 – including an outrageous front-foot six off Sharma.
Harbhajan though would cut short Sammy’s promising knock, enticing a combination of bat and pad to short leg to reach his 399th Test wicket.
One over later and the Indian off-spinner became only the third Indian player to claim 400 Test victims as Baugh – on 60 – was bowled by a delivery which was too full and straight to cut. Bhajji let out a roar in celebration and then humbly accepted a pat on the back from his teammates.
With the milestone achieved, Ishant got into the act as the home side lost their last four wickets for just five runs. Both Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo were out playing onto their own stumps as the lanky Indian paceman – having a golden tour – finished with figures of five for 77.
The players took tea at the change of innings and when they re-emerged Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund reached eight without loss before the rain came again, ruining almost the entire evening session.
Worrying for the West Indies was the absence in the field of Ravi Rampaul who was taken to hospital due to illness.
A total of 97 overs have been lost over the first two days, and play is therefore scheduled to start a half-hour early on Friday. Cricket365