India win series 1-0 as 3rd Test ends in a draw
India will have to wait another four years to win two Tests in a series in the Caribbean - a feat they've never achieved and were denied this time by a typically defiant resistance led by their West Indian tormentor-in-chief Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
India will have to wait another four years to win two Tests in a series in the Caribbean - a feat they've never achieved and were denied this time by a typically defiant resistance led by their West Indian tormentor-in-chief Shivnarine Chanderpaul. He grafted his way to a 23rd Test century and was supported by Fidel Edwards in a 37-over grind that made India rue their lack of effectiveness with the ball. Even though his partners failed to match his patience and eventually conceded their wickets to set a target of 180, timely breakthroughs in the chase meant India's priorities switched from forcing a win to securing their 1-0 lead. A day that began with the visitors in complete control, ended with West Indies achieving parity thanks, fittingly, to a batsman who became their most-capped Test player in this match.
India's late inroads on the fourth day, the fortuitous wicket of Darren Sammy - caught at short leg off a deflection from his chest - on the fifth morning and the subsequent run-out of Ravi Rampaul boosted their chances of wrapping up the game quickly. But Chanderpaul blocked out one end completely. He saw off the seamers with ease, driving and clipping them away for runs early and displaying solid defence and farming the strike when Edwards joined him. Unshakeable at one end, he forced the Indian bowlers to turn their focus completely towards Edwards, whose vigil guided Chanderpaul through to another landmark. Chanderpaul had been dropped on 25 by Rahul Dravid on the fourth day and offered another chance in his 90s - a brief phase where was troubled by the turn and Harbhajan Singh's round-the-wicket line. He edged Harbhajan a couple of times past slip, once very narrowly past Dravid but reached his century with a tickle off Ishant and celebrated with a ritual kiss to the Windsor Park surface, much to the joy of a raucous Sunday crowd in the venue's first ever Test.
After shining for much of the series, and in the first innings where they kept probing away, India's seamers faltered in good batting conditions. They didn't vary their lengths, and bowled too short: Ishant Sharma had the better of Sammy thrice in this series by pitching the ball on a length, but rarely did that on Sunday; instead, in his very first over, he was slashed for two boundaries. Munaf Patel roughed up Edwards early in his innings, whacking him on the ear when he missed a hook, but the bowlers repeated the dose too often after the batsman had learnt his lesson. Spin was India's hope, with the ball spitting on the odd occasion and though it yielded success, it was long after India desired it.
While Chanderpaul weathered most of the bowling, Edwards, who arrived with the lead just 113, showed he was adept at handling the short-ball barrage, knocking them down well off the back foot, swaying out of the way quickly and showing the full face to both the seamers and Harbhajan when they bowled fuller. When Praveen Kumar found a bit of reverse, he drove him through the line after getting to the pitch and negotiated the turn and bounce well despite a cluster of close-in fielders on the leg side. He offered some hope, however, with some needless extravagance. He smashed a slower one from Ishant over mid-off and swung another over midwicket. Having got away on a couple of occasions, he was third time unlucky when Suresh Raina forced a loose shot to mid-off. Devendra Bishoo edged a catch to slip shortly after, leaving Chanderpaul stranded when he'd have been hoping to frustrate India further.
Edwards' performance did fire him up however, and he bowled with fierce pace, and got dangerous swing and movement with the new ball. Abhinav Mukund was trapped in front first ball, playing across the line and Dravid was unsettled by some scorchers that he erred by playing at. He survived a stormy first spell with M Vijay, who put India on course with some fluent batting in conditions that considerably eased out after tea.
Singles were easy to come by, and the bad balls were comfortably dispatched. Vijay took Sammy for a couple of boundaries, including one that was off his favourite waft over midwicket, while Dravid punished Bishoo's half-tracker first up, prompting the bowler to switch to a round-the-wicket line outside leg stump. That had an effect on Vijay, who, after playing out five such deliveries in an over, felt the urge to employ a cross-batted heave off Ravi Rampaul's first ball of a new spell. He miscued it to mid-on, but the chase was still on with Raina promoted up the order. Though he infused the innings with some urgency, running brilliantly between the wickets, his stay, and India's hopes of a successful chase, ended when he scooped a catch back to Rampaul. The captains ended the game at the first opportunity before the mandatory 15 overs began.
In the end, MS Dhoni was satisfied with a 1-0 result, but could India have rounded off with a stronger statement of intent ahead of a tougher assignment in England? For West Indies, too, this was a satisfactory end. The start of the season was marred by the spat between senior players, including Chris Gayle, and the board. But a Test win over Pakistan led by their under-pressure captain Sammy, two draws against India secured from a position of weakness, the rise of Rampaul, the successful return of Edwards, the impressive debut of Kirk Edwards and Chanderpaul's evergreen reliability were all welcome results for a team that punched above its weight.