On a pitch that was expected to favour spinners, Mohammad Shami's raw pace and genuine seam movement helped India clinch a massive innings and 51 run win against West Indies in the first Test at the Eden Gardens on Friday. The seamer claimed nine wickets - second best by an Indian Test debutant - to help India crush West Indies inside three days. The Indian victory was scripted by two debutants - Shami and Rohit Sharma. The 26-year-old Sharma scored 177 as India scored 453 in their first innings, replying to West Indies' 234. In their second innings, the visitors were all out for 168. (Scorecard | Highlights)
The win was a perfect gift to Sachin Tendulkar, who played his last Test match at the historic Eden Gardens. Tendulkar will retire from Test cricket after playing his 200th at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium from November 14. Tendulkar was felicitated by the Cricket Association of Bengal and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the end of the match. The Master Blaster did a lap of honour to thank the Eden crowd. He scored 10 runs in the Indian first innings, exiting after a controversial LBW decision.
After Man of the Match Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin (124) produced a record 280-run seventh-wicket partnership to give India a match-winning 219-run first innings lead, Shami struck with his deadly reverse swing as the Bengal pacer, who took four for 71 in the first innings, polished off the West Indian middle-order with some accurate and clever seam bowling. Shami took 5 for 47 and was ably assisted by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3/45) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/20). (Rohit missed out on debut double ton)
India, for the first time, won five Tests on-the-trot, four of them coming against the Australians. The three-day finish at Eden highlighted the strength of a young Indian side. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said: "Shami was fantastic and he struck the right length. That was heartening. Shami has great seam positioning and on wickets with bounce he will be even more effective." All praise for Rohit Sharma, Dhoni said Ashwin played a key role. "He can bat like a batsman and has proved at the Test level. With Rohit, the partnership was crucial," said Dhoni. (Ashwin hits 2nd Test ton)
West Indian captain Darren Sammy was a shattered man. "We keep making the same mistakes. We were in a strong position but threw it away," said Sammy, suggesting how his batsmen capitulated on a pitch that had no real devils in it. West Indies lost four wickets in a space of seven runs. Shami was just too good with seam movement as the quickie ran havoc for the second time in a match. The West Indians batted all of 54.1 overs.