India douse West Indian fire

Bravos brilliant century not enough to stop Dhonis men from clinching series
Last Updated 17 November 2011, 18:09 IST

Through the flamboyant Darren Bravo (136, 321m, 230b, 16x4, 4x6) and the gifted Marlon Samuels (84, 135m, 111b, 13x4, 1x6), the West Indies conjured their best batting performance of the series, threatening to push the second Test at the Eden Gardens to the final day. With a spectacular display of shot-making in the most entertaining batting phase of the game, they not merely defied India but emphatically called the shots to revive, briefly, memories of that sensational Test of 2001 when India defied the odds against Australia.

One of the lead actors in that drama, Rahul Dravid, had waited patiently for hours together at slip, hoping for that one elusive edge that would put him in business. Bravo, him with an uncanny resemblance at the batting crease to his cousin Brian Lara, obliged as Pragyan Ojha found his outside edge, and Test cricket’s most prolific catcher moved to his right to pouch a smart catch.

It was the moment of the day, not least because it snuffed out the lingering fight in the Caribbean ranks. The visitors lost their last six wickets for 62 runs after the first four had realised 401 to be bowled out for 463, going down by an innings and 15 runs on Thursday.
India will go into the final Test, beginning in Mumbai on Tuesday, armed not only with an insurmountable 2-0 lead, but also the knowledge that as well as the West Indies batted on a dead-as-a-dodo fourth-day surface, there is enough resilience in their own bowling to meet any challenge head-on.

The task ahead of the West Indies when play resumed on Thursday was mammoth. At 195 for three in their second tilt, they needed a further 283 to avoid an innings defeat, a tall order for a side that had keeled over for 153 in the first innings. Saying that, they did put up a heck of a fight through Bravo and Samuels, the experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul doing his bit before chopping the impressive Umesh Yadav on to his stumps.

Yadav is a rarity in Indian cricket, blessed with the ability to bowl quick for sustained periods. He can be erratic – perfectly understandable given he is a young man still learning the ropes – but when he is on target, he is a real handful, especially against the tail that has wagged merrily against India all too often in the past.

Yadav and fellow pacer Ishant Sharma, as well as spinners Ojha and R Ashwin, plugged away manfully on a surface that negated all their designs with its slow, benign nature. There were moments when, in trying that bit extra, they erred in length and direction, but despite the heat in the air and off the Bravo-Samuels bats, they largely maintained their disciplines.

No praise, though, can be too high for Bravo. The 22-year-old left-hander had had to wait 10 Tests for his first hundred – 195 against Bangladesh last month – but Thursday’s was his second ton in three Tests, an effort outstanding in its conception and brilliant in its execution. There was a touch of disdainful arrogance about the way he drove through the covers with trademark Lara flourish, or when he danced down the track and hit cleanly over the top and down the ground.

He should have been run out on 54 after a mix-up with Chanderpaul but for a wild throw from Gautam Gambhir, and was caught at short-leg off bat and pad off Ojha by the same fielder when 119 only for umpire Oxenford to turn a blind eye, but those slices of fortune were no more than he deserved for the entertainment he provided. Samuels too was very lucky at the start, extremely vulnerable in the first 20 minutes but then exhilaratingly delightful with some sparkling strokes. During their 132-run (112m, 158b) stand, they drove India ragged until that catch from Dravid.

The Ojha-Dravid combine was soon at it again, this time the veteran taking a brilliant catch low and full tilt to his right to evict Carlton Baugh. Ashwin finally struck in his 36th over, Samuels trapped right in front, and even though Darren Sammy lashed out at the end, Yadav had the final say with two in two deliveries.

Score board

INDIA (I Innings): 631/7 decl in 151.2 overs
WEST INDIES (I Innings): 153 all out in 48 overs
WEST INDIES (II Innings, O/n: 195/3):
Barath c Laxman b Ishant    62
(134m, 105b, 10x4)
Brathwaite c Dhoni b Yadav    9
(21m, 15b, 1x4)
K Edwards lbw Ishant    60
(188m, 128b, 6x4, 1x6)
Bravo c Dravid b Ojha    136
(321m, 230b, 16x4, 4x6)
Chanderpaul b Yadav    47
(134m, 94b, 6x4)
Samuels lbw Ashwin    84
(135m, 111b, 13x4, 1x6)
Baugh c Dravid b Ojha    3
(17m, 19b)
Sammy b Yadav    32
(38m, 28b, 1x4, 3x6)
Roach b Ashwin    1
(12m, 13b)
F Edwards (not out)    15
(20m, 15b, 3x4)
Bishoo b Yadav    0
(1m, 1b)
Extras (B-9, LB-4, W-1)    14
Total (all out, 126.3 overs)    463
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Brathwaite), 2-116 (Barath), 3-161 (K Edwards), 4-269 (Chanderpaul), 5-401 (Bravo), 6-411 (Baugh), 7-417 (Samuels), 8-421 (Roach), 9-463 (Sammy). Bowling: Yadav 17.3-1-80-4, Ishant 25-4-95-2, Ojha 32-5-104-2, Ashwin 40-4-137-2, Yuvraj 3-0-14-0, Sehwag 9-2-20-0 (w-1).

(Published 17 November 2011, 05:41 IST)

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