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Samuels recovers West Indies from early damage

Kolkata (PTI): West Indies rode on Marlon Samuels’ attacking knock to recover from early damage and post 107 for the loss of two wickets at lunch on the opening day of the first cricket Test against India at the historic Eden Gardens, here today.

Making his debut, Mohammad Shami got his maiden Test scalp in the form of Kieran Powell (28) after Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave India the initial breakthrough by picking up the prized wicket of Chris Gayle (18).

Asked to bowl, the Indian bowlers exploited the early conditions to great effect and removed both the West Indies’ openers in side the 50-run mark.

But Samuels showed resilience before attacking Indian spinners and together with steady-looking Darren Bravo rebuilt the West Indies innings with an unbroken 60-run partnership.

Samuels was unbeaten on 45 from 55 balls during which he seven fours and two sixes, while Bravo was batting on 16 at the lunch break.

The ongoing match, which is Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s penultimate and 199th Test and last one at the Eden, saw half-empty stands as many chose to stay way after West Indies won the toss and elected to bat.

With some visible and wide cracks on the wicket, Sammy did not hesitate to bat up front as the visitors went with with two frontline pacers and two spinners, giving a maiden Test cap to left-arm seamer Sheldon Cotterrell.

The slow and dead Eden turner behaved nothing differently and was uninspiring for the bowlers. The ball stayed low while the odd one rose as India began with Bhuvneshwar and Shami.

Playing his first Test at his home ground, Shami was impressive as he troubled both Powell and Gayle.

Gayle went about his business in his usual brisk way and even had an inside edge off Shami but was lucky as the ball missed the stumps to race to the boundary.

With both the West Indies openers looking rusty, Dhoni introduced Ashwin in the 10th over but the result was no different as Powell slammed the off-spinner over his head before hitting a four two balls later.

But there was some respite in store for the Indian camp as Bhuvneshwar gave the first breakthrough in the first ball of the next over, removing a dangerous-looking Gayle.

Going for an expensive drive sans footwork, Gayle edged a Bhuveneshwar’s seaming delivery straight to Murali Vijay at second slip.

Dhoni made a smart change bringing in Shami from the High Court end four overs later that resulted in the second wicket in the form of Powell, the Bengal pacer’s maiden Test scalp.

Powell was caught by a running Bhuvneshwar at mid-off when he mistimed a pull off the first bouncer of the day from Shami.

But after an encouraging first session, the Indian bowlers lost the plot as Samuels and Bravo mixed caution with aggression to take West Indies forward without any further damage.

For India, in-form Rohit Sharma is the other debutant in the match. The talented Mumbai batsman got his maiden Test cap, six years after making his ODI debut on June 23, 2007.

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