After a scoring-spree which saw 1153 runs accumulated for 24 wickets on the first four days, no one expected a last-ball finish to the third Test on Saturday. But cricket never ceases to surprise, and to the delight of the cricket aficionados, it was proved that a batting beauty can also ensure a thrilling finish.
After playing atrocious cricket in the morning, West Indies held their nerve in the final few overs to escape with a draw. India needed two to win off the last ball with two wickets in hand but R Ashwin hesitated as he turned for the second run and was run out as the match finished with scores tied. It was a bizarre result, a draw and not a tie, something that has happened only before as India, needing 243 to win in 64 overs, finished on 242 for nine.
When West Indies resumed on 81 for two and with a 108-run first innings cushion as well, no one looked beyond a draw. But thanks to poor batting and some fine bowling, 295 runs were scored for 17 wickets on the day.
After West Indies folded up for a meagre 134, the strong Indian batting line-up was expected to get across the line on a canter. However, after the flying start provided by Virender Sehwag (60 off 65 balls), the hosts were never in control of the chase. Virat Kohli (63 off 114 balls) kept them marginally ahead but Devendra Bishoo claimed his wicket in the 60th over to leave the game in balance.
India needed 19 runs in 29 balls with three wickets in hand, which became 13 off four and then six off 12. When the final over began, with three runs needed with two wickets in hand, the 18,000 fans in the stadium were on their feet.
Edwards bowled three dot balls to Varun Aaron and only a fumble by Marlon Samuels at mid-off allowed Ashwin to get the strike. Ashwin couldn't score off the fifth ball but by not losing his wicket he ensured India wouldn't lose.
In the end, West Indies were saved the embarrassment of becoming the first team to lose after scoring 590 in the first innings. They also escaped what would have been their first series whitewash against India. Darren Sammy's men undid all the good work of the first innings. Shocking shot selection, lack of footwork and application saw them losing the last eight wickets for 53 runs.
Only Darren Bravo's was a hard fought wicket where he was deceived in flight by Pragyan Ojha to be caught and bowled. Samuels, Carlton Baugh, Sammy and Ravi Rampaul all played reckless strokes. The spin duo of Pragyan Ojha (six wickets) and R Ashwin (four) was again the tormentors for West Indies. Ashwin had a series haul of 22 wickets and Ojha 20.
The star-studded Indian batting line-up too wasn't up to the mark. Sehwag was dropped thrice; Sachin Tendulkar managed just three runs while Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and M S Dhoni fell at crucial junctures.