People came into the Ferozshah Kotla or sat down in front of television sets on a weekday morning hoping to see Sachin Tendulkar score his hundredth international hundred and lead India to a Test win over the West Indies. Their second wish came true, but not the first.
A perfect Wednesday was ruined when Tendulkar fell to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo but his 76 led a strong middle-order display that took India to the 276-run target with five wickets to spare. VVS Laxman finished unbeaten on 58, turning one through square-leg for the winning hit.
The come-from-behind win in less than three-and-a-half days ended India's six-match winless streak in Tests. Their last win came against the same opposition in the first of three Tests in the West Indies earlier this year.
“If we had got a first-innings lead you could have said it was the perfect start to the series,” India captain MS Dhoni said at the post-match press conference. India conceded a 95-run first-innings lead before debutant off-spinner R Ashwin dragged them back into the match with six wickets in the second innings, bowling out the West Indies for 180. Ashwin was declared Man of the Match.
“I think the turning point was our second innings when we did not bat well enough,” said West Indies captain Darren Sammy.
Dismantling The Wall
At the end of the third day's play, West Indies coach Ottis Gibson had hoped for a couple of wickets early on Day 4 to put pressure on India. They got only one, that of Rahul Dravid.
India had added only 10 runs to their overnight score of 152 for two when Fidel Edwards got one to reverse into the right-hander from outside off-stump and burst through Dravid's forward defence.
Laxman came in and got off the mark with a glanced four through fine-leg as Edwards kept searching for a repeat delivery. The fast bowler never found it though he bowled a six-over spell.Laxman and Tendulkar presented a straight bat to most of his deliveries and glanced him when he strayed down the leg.
Tendulkar had been watchful in the last session on Tuesday, but came out with a positive intent on Day 4. He hit Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul out of the attack with shots on both sides of the wicket off the front foot and back without taking any risks.
Leg-spinner Bishoo took some time to hit the right length and allowed Laxman and Tendulkar to race towards the target.
Part-time off-spinner Marlon Samuels got one to bounce at Tendulkar and the next one to go past the batsman's outside edge. But the pressure was released when the third ball turned out to be a long hop that was dispatched to the boundary.
It was that kind of a day for the West Indies, till Bishoo caught Tendulkar in front of the stumps as he swivelled to pull one that was not short enough.
The match was almost over as a contest, but the West Indies had won a small battle.