From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.49 :: Dec. 08, 2011

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CRICKET / THIRD TEST/INDIA V WEST INDIES

A draw that resembled a tie

The final result was a fair reflection of the efforts put in by both teams and India won the series 2-0. The third Test match's echo continued in drawing rooms and amidst twitterati long after its conclusion on an unforgettable Saturday and a classic was born, writes K.C. Vijaya Kumar.

K.R. DEEPAK

The jubilant Indian team that won the series, 2-0.

A match that ambled sedately with the focus being on milestones, suddenly exploded with a fifth day of raw energy and infinite twists. The resultant draw between India and the West Indies with the cumulative scores level at 724 runs each, left the fans confused at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium and briefly the giant screen erroneously flashed ‘match ends in a tie.' In the sands of time, the third Test, will be analysed thread-bare and generate infinite anecdotes. In a reflection of that old adage about cricket and its glorious uncertainties, a drawn final contest of a three-match series, will grab more mind-space than the first two Tests that decisively went India's way.

Darren Sammy hugged Fidel Edwards, the Indian team began its trudge from the dressing room and ‘Man of the Match' and ‘Man of the Series' R. Ashwin walked away with Varun Aaron after shepherding a chase that in the final stages was headed towards all the four results for India: victory, defeat, draw and tie.

Needing 243 to win in its second innings from 64 overs, India paused at 242 for nine! In the exceptional last over that Edwards bowled, India needed three to win with two wickets in hand and Aaron managed a single only off the fourth delivery. Ashwin opted to defend the fifth and protect his wicket as that would ensure that India couldn't lose the match even if he was dismissed in the final delivery as the host still would have had a wicket to spare.

The ploy was sensible and the fifth delivery that Edwards bowled did not warrant any risk-taking. Ashwin then clattered the last ball to long-on, picked his single and turned back for the winning run but by then substitute Denesh Ramdin's throw was zipping in and India's hero was resigned to his fate: run-out. The match ended in a draw and a surprisingly a stalemate had become an iconic match.

The final day's medley of 295 runs and 17 wickets was a marked contrast to the earlier four days of stately batsmen and their dalliance with milestones. The match largely proved to be a restorative for batsmen and their self-esteem. The West Indies posted 590 in its first innings with its top six merrily striking fifties and beyond. It was a first for the West Indies and only the fifth instance in international cricket.

PTI

It was fitting that spin-partner Pragyan Ojha was at the crease when Ravichandran Ashwin scored his maiden Test hundred.

Related to Brian Lara and with a style that resembled the great man's ease at the crease, Darren Bravo (166, 284b, 17x4) made the maximum on a pitch that remained placid and scored his third Test ton. Bravo also prospered on a sliver of luck when on 33, Rahul Dravid dropped him at slip off Pragyan Ojha. Adrian Barath, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels enjoyed their stints and ensured that an injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul's absence was not felt.

India meanwhile drew some succour from Ashwin's second five-wicket haul and debutant Aaron's late burst that accounted for three scalps. India's first innings was a two-course tale as the team was solely focussed on scoring 391 and avoiding the follow-on while the crowd and the rest of the nation egged Sachin Tendulkar to get his 100th international hundred. The base was there for Tendulkar to launch himself into the next level of batting orbit after Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir started well and Dravid (82) played a classy knock before losing it with his first false stroke — a ham-handed cut against Samuels.

Tendulkar was in the zone, flicking off his toes, rocking back to upper-cut Edwards and when he straight drove Ravi Rampaul on the fourth day's morning, the tread was firm and a statistical high just seemed a stone's throw away. It was not to be. Rampaul angled one across, a touch wide outside the off-stump, Tendulkar was drawn, the bait was taken and Sammy clutched the catch like a cherished medallion. The maestro was out for 94 and the oxymoron ‘deafening silence' had its most powerful example at Indian cricket's home.

V. V. S. Laxman and M. S. Dhoni did not last long but the crowd did witness a hundred. Tendulkar may have missed the landmark while Ashwin in a series that he has waded through like Moses parting the seas, registered his maiden Test ton (103, 118b, 15x4, 2x6). Ashwin's innings high on poise and lovely shots evoked admiration from his partner Virat Kohli (52), who later said: “I was like ‘what's happening? I mean I am here absorbing all the pressure and you are playing your shots!'” The two shared a 97-run seventh-wicket partnership that helped India avert the follow-on and finish with 482.

Secure with a first-innings lead of 108, the West Indies then proceeded to deflect the match's pathway from the expected dull draw. Sammy's men played poor shots and often moved the bat and feet more in hope than with conviction and a disastrous second innings ended at 134 leaving India with a tantalising target after Ojha (six for 47) and Ashwin (four for 34) again drew their stifling webs around tentative batsmen.

K.R. DEEPAK

Bravo! It was the second Test hundred on the trot for the talented Darren.

The Indian chase was helmed by Sehwag and Dravid after Gambhir's early dismissal. Sehwag (60) breezed through in his bruising ways oblivious to dropped catches (on 6, 13 and 27) until a reverse-paddle sweep undid him. India then lost wickets in pairs as Dravid and Tendulkar, and then Laxman and Dhoni fell to leave the final stretch to Kohli (63) and Ashwin.

Kohli slotted the right gears and was well and truly charting India's victory when against the run of play, he cut Devendra Bishoo and succumbed leaving the climax to Ashwin and the whimsical cricketing gods while Rampaul and Edwards helped the West Indies wing its way back.

The final result was a fair reflection of the efforts put in by both teams and India won the series 2-0. The match's echo continued in drawing rooms and amidst twitterati long after its conclusion on an unforgettable Saturday and a classic was born.

THE SCORES

West Indies — 1st innings: A. Barath c Dhoni b Ashwin 62, K. Brathwaite c Kohli b Ashwin 68, K. Edwards c Dhoni b Ishant 86, D. Bravo c Dhoni b Aaron 166, K. Powell c Dhoni b Ojha 81, M. Samuels c Dravid b Ashwin 61, C. Baugh b Aaron 4, D. Sammy c Dhoni b Aaron 3, R. Rampaul c Kohli b Ashwin 10, F. Edwards (not out) 11, D. Bishoo b Ashwin 12. Extras (b-8, lb-16, nb-2): 26; Total: 590.

Fall of wickets: 1-137, 2-150, 3-314, 4-474, 5-518, 6-524, 7-540, 8-563, 9-566.

India bowling: Ishant 32-9-84-1, Aaron 28-4-106-3, Ojha 48-10-126-1, Ashwin 52.1-6-156-5, Sehwag 16-1-61-0, Kohli 2-0-9-0, Tendulkar 6-0-24-0.

India — 1st innings: G. Gambhir c Baugh b Rampaul 55, V. Sehwag b Sammy 37, R. Dravid b Samuels 82, S. Tendulkar c Sammy b Rampaul 94, V. V. S. Laxman c Samuels b Fidel Edwards 32, V. Kohli c Fidel Edwards b Bishoo 52, M. S. Dhoni b Sammy 8, R. Ashwin c Barath b Rampaul 103, I. Sharma c Bravo b Samuels 5, V. Aaron b Samuels 4, P. Ojha (not out) 0. Extras (b-1, nb-5, w-4): 10; Total: 482.

Fall of wickets: 1-67, 2-138, 3-224, 4-287, 5-322, 6-331, 7-428, 8-455, 9-463.

West Indies bowling: Fidel Edwards 28-4-116-1, Rampaul 22.4-3-95-3, Sammy 26-3-90-2, Samuels 17-0-74-3, Bishoo 40-6-106-1.

West Indies — 2nd innings: A. Barath c Laxman b Ojha 3, K. Brathwaite c Tendulkar b Ojha 35, K. Edwards st. Dhoni b Ojha 17, D. Bravo c & b Ojha 48, K. Powell lbw b Ashwin 11, M. Samuels st. Dhoni b Ojha 0, C. Baugh b Ashwin 1, D. Sammy c Dhoni b Ashwin 10, R. Rampaul c Tendulkar b Ojha 0, F. Edwards (not out) 2, D. Bishoo lbw b Ashwin 0. Extras (b-3, lb-4): 7; Total: 134.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-30, 3-91, 4-112, 5-112, 6-117, 7-120, 8-129, 9-134.

India bowling: Ojha 27-5-47-6, Ishant 8-2-15-0, Aaron 4-0-23-0, Ashwin 15.2-0-34-4, Sehwag 2-0-3-0, Tendulkar 1-0-5-0.

India — 2nd innings: G. Gambhir c Sammy b Fidel Edwards 12, V. Sehwag c Sammy b Bishoo 60, R. Dravid c (sub) Ramdin b Samuels 33, S. Tendulkar c Kirk Edwards b Samuels 3, V. V. S. Laxman c Barath b Rampaul 31, V. Kohli c Sammy b Bishoo 63, M. S. Dhoni c Kirk Edwards b Rampaul 13, R. Ashwin (run out) 14, I. Sharma b Rampaul 10, V. Aaron (not out) 2. Extras (nb-1): 1; Total (for nine wickets): 242.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-101, 3-106, 4-113, 5-165, 6-189, 7-224, 8-239, 9-242.

West Indies bowling: Fidel Edwards 7-0-28-1, Rampaul 16-1-56-3, Samuels 25-0-93-2, Bishoo 16-0-65-2.



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