Scores level in epic Mumbai draw
A game seemingly destined for a draw ended that way, but with the scores dramatically level for the second time in Tests following a pulsating final day at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium where India finished nine down.
With only 22 wickets falling on the first four days on a featherbed surface, when West Indies resumed their second innings this morning on 81 for two – a lead of 189 – a stalemate and therefore a 2-0 series win for the hosts appeared by far the most likely outcome.
However, spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin shared the last eight wickets as the tourists were dismissed for 134 before lunch, setting India 243 in a minimum of 64 overs to complete a whitewash.
Despite losing regular scalps, fifties from opener Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli put the hosts on course for victory. Even when Kohli fell, they required 19 from 29 balls with three wickets left.
That became three with two to spare from the last over when Fidel Edwards conceded only two, one from the final delivery as Ashwin was comfortably run out going for a second.
It marked a stunning climax to a captivating contest, which so nearly yielded Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century and, as late as the penultimate ball, any of the four possible results.
The first four overs suggested nothing of the drama to follow but in the next left-armer Ojha, who struck twice yesterday evening, had Kraigg Brathwaite caught at point for 35.
Darren Bravo looped a chance off Ojha over short-leg on 36 and, reprieved, hit Varun Aaron for consecutive fours.
Seven wicketless overs had followed Brathwaite’s dismissal when Ojha struck twice in one, having Bravo caught and bowled for 48 and Marlon Samuels stumped on nought.
Ashwin broke through in the next, bowling Carlton Baugh through the gate with a classic off-spinner’s dismissal. In his next set of six he trapped West Indies’ last recognised batsman, Kieran Powell, in front to leave the tourists 120 for seven.
Ojha had a panicky Ravi Rampaul caught at deep square-leg and Darren Sammy, who like Edwards lived dangerously, was soon stumped off Ashwin before Devendra Bishoo was immediately lbw to end the innings.
Ojha returned an international-best 6-47 from 27 overs and Ashwin, who was later named man of the match and series, 4-34 inside 16.
From the first ball of India’s chase Gautam Gambhir steered Edwards for four but, after Rampaul dropped a one-handed return chance to remove Sehwag following lunch, Gambhir was caught off the former at point.
Rahul Dravid picked up his first boundary before Sehwag, although the opener twice found the rope in consecutive Rampaul overs.
Sehwag was dropped again on 27, by Sammy at slip in Samuels’ first over, and went to a half-century with consecutive fours off Bishoo. But the leg-spinner exacted revenge in his next over when, on 60, Sehwag’s reverse-paddle found short fine-leg.
Tendulkar, dismissed for 94 yesterday, managed only three today as Samuels struck via a catch at short midwicket. Dravid followed for 33 to the off-spinner at deep midwicket.
Kohli, who pulled Samuels for six, and VVS Laxman settled India’s nerves with a 52-run stand either side of tea that ended when the latter top-edged a pull off Rampaul to mid-on.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was circumspect before Rampaul had the captain caught at short cover, but Kohli went to 50 with a single to leg off Samuels. Victory was in sight when Kohli cut Bishoo to point on 63.
Ishant Sharma’s nerves were obvious from his running and it was no surprise when Rampaul bowled him in the penultimate over.
Aaron’s single left him on strike for the start of the last and he could only add another with two balls remaining. First-innings centurion Ashwin defended the next to rule out defeat but could not force victory.