Ravichandran Ashwin had a debut to remember as he bowled a superb spell to leave the West Indies in tatters. The offie took 6 wickets without giving away too many runs as India bowled out the visitors for a meagre 180.
Needing 276 to win, India started well before losing Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag but help came in the form of the 2 most experienced players, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who kept clam and made sure that India went into day 4 with a massive advantage.
West Indies went into day 3 with a slight advantage, one that could have been far greater if they had not lost two late wickets last evening. India had also clawed their way back into the game thanks to those two late wickets and looked to build on it and get early wickets on Day 3.
Ishant Sharma did just that for the hosts get rid of nightwatchman, Fidel Edwards in his second over of the day. This was after umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned down a very good LBW shout off Kirk Edwards in the first over of the day. Umesh Yadav however ensured that Kirk Edwards didn’t go on to do too much damage, dismissing the top order batsman soon after to get his first Test wicket. With four wickets down, West Indies were desperate for a good stand while India sensed the opportunity to close things if they could get another wicket.
Ravichandran Ashwin gave them that breakthrough by getting rid of Darren Bravo and went one better in the same over by castling Marlon Samuels with an absolute peach of a delivery. Much relied upon first innings hero, Shivnarine Chanderpaul to bail the Windies out of trouble and he started in positive fashion with a couple of boundaries off Umesh Yadav. Carlton Baugh and left hander tried their best to restore some respectability to their scoreboard with a dogged stand, but Yadav struck again to have Baugh caught behind and leave WI in shambles at 84/7.
West Indies only managed to score 86 runs in the first session at the expense of 5 wickets with Ashwin and Yadav the destroyers in chief and India went in with the definite upper hand. Chanderpaul was however showing glimpses of his first innings form and that would have left the Indian a tad worried.
Post Lunch Session
India started the post Lunch session exactly they way they would have wanted to – getting rid of Shivnarine Chanderpaul early. Ashwin changed to over the wicket for the left hander and the move worked soon after as he trapped the in form West Indian legend in front to give India their 8th wicket. The tail frustrated the Indian team for some time, but Ashwin stuck to his task and picked up Darren Sammy and Ravi Rampaul to end with a six wicket haul on debut. The young offie would have delighted many with his variation and ability as he had the West Indies batsman in trouble most of the time. West Indies had however got to a score from which they could push for victory, and on a pitch which was offering some help to the bowlers, they would’ve fancied their chances.
India, in reply, started in steady fashion with both the openers looking to rotate the strike rather than go for boundaries at will. The ploy worked for the hosts as Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag took India through till Tea safely.
Post Tea Session
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag went about their work as efficiently as before the break as India crossed the 50 run mark. Gambhir was the first one to depart, against the run of play, to Marlon Samuels, LBW. The ball seemed to be sliding down the leg side but umpire Rod Tucker went in favour of the visitors. Sehwag, typically, seemed unperturbed by the wicket and soon brought up his 29th Test fifty as India started to breathe easy again.
Darren Sammy struck a crucial blow soon to bring the Calypso kings back into the game, forcing Sehwag to inside edge an attempted cut onto his stumps. The anticipation rose as Sachin Tendulkar made his way out to the middle to join Rahul Dravid. The experienced duo decided to cut out the risks as India made slow progress.
Sachin Tendulkar went on to bring up another milestone that many wouldn’t have dared to dream of becoming the first person to score 15000 runs in Test cricket. Another big milestone beckons the Little Master, who is now 67 runs away from notching up his 100th international hundred. India might well have another reason to celebrate tomorrow as a hundred would not only bring up his milestone but also a 1-0 lead in the series.
The duo continued to play with minimum fuss to ensure India went into Day 4 with 8 wickets intact and a much easier chance of taking a 1-0 lead. India finished the day at a comfortable 152/2 needing another 124 to win the game.