Team India’s win in the fourth and last Test of the series against the West Indies is remarkable for more than one reason. The victory breaks a jinx that thwarted the best efforts of Indian teams for 35 years to clinch a Test series win in the Caribbean. Although the West Indies are a mere shadow of their legendary ‘invincible’ avatar of the Eighties, Brian Lara’s men are hardly minnows, as they proved with an amazing 4-1 win over favourites India in the one-dayers. Still, the Indians clearly regrouped very well after the ODI series to get to within an inch of winning the first Test. In the second, rain came to the rescue of a beleaguered West Indies, while the third saw a determined fight-back by India — who, at one stage, were 159 for five in response to West Indies’ 581 — to hold the edge on the final day.
It’s unfair to say — as some critics do — that India should have won by a bigger margin. The Sabina pitch was a snorter even for Rahul Dravid, who played what Lara called ‘the best two innings’ he’d seen on such a track, on his way to become the sixth batsman in the world to score 9000 runs. Clinching the Test series was always India’s focus for this tour.
Now that they have achieved it, the men in blue should look to learn important lessons that the tour offered. The slow pace of the wicket, for instance, clearly requires that batsmen must learn to be patient just as the bowlers may have to look beyond the regular swing and seam option to get wickets. A year from now, India could be grateful to have already faced such conditions as they fight to be world champions.