India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained his team to its fifth successive Test win - a first in the game's history - when India defeated West Indies by an innings and 51 runs inside three days at the Eden Gardens on Friday. The 32-year-old thanked the entire team but reserved his special praise for debutants Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami.
After grabbing a first innings lead of 219 - thanks to Rohit Sharma's 177 -- Shami wreaked havoc for the second time in the match. Shami's five-wicket haul in the second innings helped the hosts bowl West Indies out on 168. "This was a fantastic performance," said a beaming Dhoni in the post-match chat. "I think it was a disciplined effort from Shami. Most bowlers got reverse swing but the way Shami performed was brilliant. His line and length was great."
Shami finished with a rich haul of nine for 118 from the match which made him the second best Indian bowler on Test debut after leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani, who took 16 wickets for 136 versus the West Indies in Chennai in 1988. (1st Test as it happened)
"You need good pace and Shami has exactly that. He also has a good seam position which means on wickets with a bit of bounce, he can floruish," said Dhoni about the 23-year-old Bengal bowler, who won his place ahead of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. This performance makes Shami almost a certainty for the tour of South Africa next month.
Dhoni also heaped praise on Sharma, who became the 14th Indian to score a century on Test debut. "One has to believe in destiny. Rohit was to make his debut in Nagpur in 2009 but got injured before toss. And now, he has finally made his debut and has done great. It is great to see him bat the way he did in ODIs but he is doing well in Tests too now."
Ravichandran Ashwin's spin too got a special mention from Dhoni but the skipper was mighty pleased with his batting towards the end. "Ashwin is a great bowler but these days, if No. 8, 9 and 10 can bat, it's great. But I won't say he can't bat a bit because Ashwin can bat like any batsman. It is very useful to have him."
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said spinner Shane Shillingford was the only positive in the match for him. "Shane (Shillingford) bowled brilliantly but we couldn't have bowled him for too long. Our batting though, me included, is what really let us down. We always seem to get ourselves into strong positions but let it slip in Test cricket," said Sammy, promising that the tourists will hit back hard at Wankhede.
The second Test - final match for Sachin Tendulkar - will be played in Mumbai between November 14 and 18.