KOLKATA: Schoolboy stuff by a rag-tag West Indies outfit handed India a belated Diwali gift at the Eden Gardens on Friday, but with Dhoni and Co. wrapping up the first Test inside three days, Sachin Tendulkar’s penultimate international appearance was cut short by two days.
It was India’s fifth Test win on the trot at home, the innings and 51-run thumping of the Caribbeans at the Eden Gardens coming after the 4-0 whitewash of Australia earlier this year. India, the No. 1 side in ODIs, will leapfrog England into second place in ICC Test rankings if they win the two-match series that concludes in Mumbai.
Among all the gifts showered upon Sachin here over the past few days, the Little Master will surely cherish India’s dominance over Windies in his 199th Test match. Unlucky to have been given out lbw by umpire Nigel Llong in his only outing with the bat here, Sachin, who also picked up a wicket, will also take heart from his protege Rohit Sharma’s splendid display with the bat that fetched the debutant 177 runs as well as the Man-of-the-Match award.
A team man to the core, Sachin will also take pride in the way debutant pacer Mohammed Shami bowled in the match. If Rohit and Ashwin (124) laid the foundation for India’s victory with a seventh-wicket partnership that was worth 280 runs, Shami’s lion-hearted bowling on a slow turner gladdened hearts.
Shami, who had picked up four wickets in the first essay, snapped up five more in the second innings to finish with match figures of nine for 118 – the best by an Indian pacer in his debut game. It is also the second-best figures by an Indian bowler on debut after leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani (16/136) against the West Indies in 1987-88. Figures alone, however, don’t tell the whole story of the Bengal pacer, who has roots in UP’s Amroha district.
Shami, who was largely ineffective in his first spell of three overs with the new ball in the West Indies second innings, came back strongly after the tea break to fire out the West Indies with Ashwin (3/46) lending excellent support. And though he was lucky to scalp Marlon Samuels lbw with a ball that was clearly drifting down the leg side, Denesh Ramdin (1), Darren Sammy (8), Shane Shillingford (0) and Sheldon Cottrell (5) all failed to read his reverse swing delivered with pin-point accuracy at a lively speed.
That India bundled out the West Indies in just 54.1 overs in under fours hours summed up the visitors’ lack of application in the game’s cruelest format that separates men from the boys. Chris Gayle, who appears to be permanently in IPL mode, spanked a run-a-ball 33 before top-edging a Bhuvneshwar bouncer to Virat Kohli at square leg. Kieran Powell, who took 30 balls to get off the mark, was trapped leg-before by Ashwin for 36.