S. Ram Mahesh
Gros Islet: Delayed, India, showed it would do its darndest not to be denied. Despite losing 90 overs to the elements, the visiting side, bowled tight lines, skipper Rahul Dravid set attacking and at times innovative fields, as the push for victory was undertaken in right earnest on the final day of the second Test.
After taking two wickets before lunch, the visiting side, prised out the crucial wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the middle session here at the Beausejour Cricket Ground, to leave itself six wickets to get in a minimum of 29 overs.
But, a defiant Brian Lara with 110 off 283 balls stood between the tourists and a possible fourth win in the Caribbean. His second century against India Waugh-tying 32nd may be one of his greatest yet: a century borne of struggle.
Indian coach Greg Chappell, when asked on Tuesday if he thought God were West Indian, had said: "As long as he is Indian tomorrow, we have no complaints."
On the morning of Wednesday at least, the divine switch of loyalties seemed to have happened. The Sun, in violation of the met office forecast, came out. An inspection, and it was decided play would start at 9.30 a.m. (local time), with a minimum of 83 overs to be bowled until the final 15 overs.
Kumble knows exactly what's needed in situations like these. In the fifth over of the day, the great man fed Daren Ganga a googly, which the opener saw onto his stumps, without offering a stroke.
The 49-run stand was broken - 51 for two. Kumble was bowling with flight on occasion, varying pace masterfully. Some deliveries hacked the track. Puffs of dust rose.
Munaf got Sarwan with a peach. Landing in the corridor outside off, and proceeding to jag in at decent pace, the delivery climbed into Dhoni's mitts after introducing itself to bat edge.
That brought together Lara and Chanderpaul: the two best equipped to keep disaster at bay. The swan and the crab an old partnership reprised began the resistance. This was the partnership India needed to break, and break quickly, for it would have the effect of disheartening the West Indian dressing room.
Lara has a history on this ground. Against Sri Lanka, the fourth day had been washed off, and the 37-year-old, resuming on 93, made a double hundred on the final day. On Wednesday, he was battling more than the Indian bowlers the physio made a couple of trips to the middle to tend to what looked like a sore throat and a spot of dizziness.
Dhoni stood up to Pathan, not allowing the batsmen to negate the leg-before dismissal by batting outside their crease. The left-armer had a close shout against Lara: it may have struck him the narrowest shade outside off, and missed the pegs by millimetres. Worse have been given.
Fortune often the determiner in tight situations was with West Indies. Sehwag, who again bowled with cunning and skill, drew edges from both left-handers, but none went to hand. Lara inner-edged Kumble past his stumps twice the second brought up his 50.
A brave umpire might have given the Caribbean skipper one of two times Kumble appealed. Both were long strides, the bat was hidden behind pad Hawk-Eye, for what its worth, showed both hitting stumps. Lara then opened up with a couple of bat-whirring cover drives.
Chanderpaul, meanwhile, went to his half-century, but fell at the worst possible moment in the worst possible manner slogging a full-toss high to mid-on after putting on a stubborn 129 with his captain. Sehwag took the new ball as Lara denied singles during the early part of the over.
India 1st innings: 588 for eight wickets decl. in 148.2 overs.
West Indies 1st innings: 215 in 85.1 overs.
West Indies 2nd innings: C. Gayle c Dhoni b Pathan 2, D. Ganga b Kumble 26, B. Lara (batting) 110, R. Sarwan c Dhoni b Munaf 1, S. Chanderpaul c Pathan b Kumble 54, D. Bravo (batting) 14; Extras (lb-4, nb-5, Pen 5) 14. Total (for four wickets, in 87 overs) 221.
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Gayle), 2-51 (Ganga), 3-52 (Sarwan), 4-181 (Chanderpaul).
India bowling: Pathan 15-2-50-1, Munaf 16-6-32-1, V.R.V. Singh 8-0-22-0, Kumble 29-4-75-2, Sehwag 19-4-33-0.