Ashwin steals the limelight
Ravichandran Ashwin compiled his maiden international hundred to rescue India on day four of the third and final Test against West Indies in Mumbai.
With the game seemingly drifting towards a draw after three days, attention had turned to whether Sachin Tendulkar, who resumed this morning on 67 in a score of 281 for three, would be able to complete his 100th international hundred on his home ground.
However, the Little Master was dismissed for 94 as India slipped to 331 for six, still 60 short of the total they needed to avoid the follow-on on a benign surface.
Ashwin, the first Indian since 1962 to score a century and take five wickets in the same innings of a Test, duly took centre stage, striking 103 and sharing a stand of 97 with Virat Kohli, who contributed an elegant 52, as the hosts battled to 482 all out.
By stumps, West Indies led by 189 on 81 for two, with a positive result once again appearing somewhat unlikely heading into the final day.
It took the tourists - 2-0 down in the series - just seven deliveries to make a breakthrough this morning. After Ravi Rampaul had bowled the opening over, Fidel Edwards struck with his first ball of the day as VVS Laxman edged to gully.
Tendulkar was having no such problems and moved effortlessly into the nineties with a series of boundaries, including an uppercut over third man for six off Edwards.
Yet, with the anticipation growing around the Wankhede Stadium, India’s favourite son then played loosely outside off stump to Rampaul and was well caught by Sammy at second slip.
West Indies struck again soon after when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was bowled by Sammy, but Ashwin responded to a situation of some peril with positive strokeplay and received healthy support from Kohli, who eased to his maiden Test fifty before chipping Devendra Bishoo to mid-on.
Ashwin continued to prosper following Kohli’s exit and took the attack to West Indies in a measured and controlled manner, even as he started to run out of partners.
Marlon Samuels accounted for Ishant Sharma, caught at short-leg, and Varun Aaron, bowled by one that turned sharply, but Ashwin stayed calm and moved to three figures by steering Rampaul to the third man fence.
He was caught at midwicket from the next ball after top-edging a pull, but his efforts ensured West Indies were only 108 ahead when they came out to bat for a second time.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who opened the bowling, had Adrian Barath caught at short cover for three and Kirk Edwards stumped for 17, but Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo - a centurion in his previous two innings - steadied the ship and made it through to stumps.
There was a scare for Bravo in the final over when Kohli failed to take a sharp chance at forward short-leg.
On a day when he had looked set to make history, Tendulkar was the unfortunate bowler.