Debutant picks up five in second essay as the host scores an innings win
The victory came with a tinge of sadness at the Eden Gardens. The fans at this historic stage missed the chance to watch their cricketing deity, Sachin Tendulkar, bat the second time as India handed the West Indies an innings and 51 runs lashing.
Entertainment, for the last three days, had remained confined to what Tendulkar did. The spectators, these days, just can’t accept anything else at any ground where a match involving him is in progress. Every roar is reserved for Tendulkar, whether he bowls, fields, or, simply throws a glance at the stands.
The rest, players and fans, participate with enthusiasm.
There was little change in the script on Friday as India extended its domination in world cricket by finishing the first Test inside three days.
The victory was sighted early and accomplished in the last session when Mohammad Shami, the fast emerging new ball bowler, claimed his fifth wicket and ninth of the match, to give finishing touches to the wonderful job done by Rohit Sharma and R. Ashwin, the latter compiling his second Test century. This morning India added 99 runs before embarking on the demolition job.
Shami was the man of the hour. His haul in this match was the best on debut by a fast bowler. His deceptive pace off the pitch once again startled the West Indians, who also failed to read his swing. “A great potential,” as former captain Kapil Dev observed.
The West Indies did little to enhance its reputation with yet another dreadful response to a challenge. The batsmen refused to apply themselves, chose not to learn from mistakes and performed so indifferently on the stage. The occasion pleaded for restrain and discipline but the West Indians continued to be extravagant.
The expansive methods were bound to cost the team dearly, especially when the top order decides to throw caution to the winds and adopt questionable tactics. For a Test team, the West Indies proved an apology, much to the chagrin of the spectators who turned up in anticipation of some intense fare.
Starting with Chris Gayle, the West Indies plummeted to abominable depths. His cross-batted swipe symbolised the lack of spirit in the West Indies ranks. It was an innocuous ball but Gayle, having produced some fluent shots square and in front, gave it the aura of a wicket-taking missile, top-edging the intended but ill-advised pull. It was a strange shot that eerily reflected the shape of things to come.
The Indians had a simple philosophy. Just make the batsmen play and reap the benefits. It became a rich harvest. The pitch assisted and so did the West Indian batsmen.
There was an exception but not enough to alter the trend. A 68-run stand between Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo was the only semblance of a contest. The ball was played on merit and a fight looked a pleasant and distinct possibility and the crowd loved it.
Bravo revelled with some brave drives. Powell, slow to start, warmed up with a few shots that created confidence in the Caribbean camp. It was beginning to resemble a stage befitting a Test. But as wickets tumbled, the West Indies reputation took a hit. The batsmen just did not measure up to the line of India’s attack. True, Shivnarine Chanderpaul defended and defied but his obduracy did not impact his colleagues.
Nothing exposed the West Indies’ brittleness more than the 49th over when it lost two wickets to Shami and there was a run out.
If Darren Sammy and Shane Shillingford failed to read Shami’s reverse swing it was credit to the bowler but the run out was comical.
Even as Shami and the rest appealed against Veerasammy Permaul for a possible leg-before, the batsman, on a casual stroll, embarrassed himself and the team by ambling back and failing to beat M.S. Dhoni’s direct throw.
Tendulkar’s final appearance at the Eden was celebrated with a standing ovation from one and all. As for his thanksgiving lap of honour, it stands reserved for the Wankhede Stadium, where his farewell Test commences from November 14.