By Sean Devers
in Jamaica In association
with Digicel, Queensway,
Western Union and
Despite a couple of cameos from their tail enders West indies crashed to only their fifth defeat against India on home soil when they lost the first Test by 63 runs yesterday at Sabina Park with a day and almost two sessions left in the match.
Set an improbable 326 to win, the host began the fourth day needing 195 to win with seven wickets in hand and fell 10.2 overs after lunch for 262 once the 68-run stand between overnight pair Shiv Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo was broken early on the penultimate day.
Skipper Darren Sammy hit three consecutive sixes off Harbhajan Singh in his 11-ball 25 while Ravi Rampaul struck six fours and a six in his 34 from 31 balls but this just provided some entertainment for the small crowd and made little difference to the outcome of the contest.
Devendra Bishoo weighed in with a pulled six and a slog-swept four off leg-spinner Amit Mishra after Lunch in his 26 and added 39 for the last wicket with Fidel Edwards (15*) as the last four batsmen, all bowlers, scored 100 runs between them yesterday.
Had Ramnaresh Sarwan and Carlton Baugh, who both celebrated birthdays yesterday, not made ducks in the second innings and out of form Vice-Captain Brendon Nash gotten into double figures, things might have been different.
The position of Sarwan, who has not managed a Test fifty in his last 16 innings, could be under pressure with Marlon Samuels waiting in the wings when the next match begins on Tuesday in Barbados.
While the fans did not turn up in large numbers, the sun was out in all of its glory and on a fourth day pitch playing a lot better than expected, West Indies began the penultimate day on 131-3.
The left-handed pair of Chanderpaul (24) and Bravo (30) resumed with the primary task of surviving the first hour.
Only Courtney Walsh (133) has played more Tests for the West Indies than Chanderpaul, in his 131st match, while Bravo was only in his sixth and the length of their partnership yesterday would have been critical to the end result.
Chanderpaul flicked pacer Praveen Kumar for four to fine-leg and the pair of youth and experience chipped away at the target with level-headed batting as West Indies, holders of the record for highest successful fourth innings runs chase (418 against Australia in 2003), tried to deny India consecutive Tests wins in Jamaica.
Bravo effortlessly caressed Inshant Sharma to the cover boundary off the front foot before, in very Brian Lara like fashion, shuffled across his wicket and had his leg stump plucked out by Kumar to end the partnership and send Bravo packing for 41 from 89 balls with seven fours.
Chanderpaul, with 22 tons, five against India but none since his 166 against South Africa in June last year, was joined by Nash at 148-4.
Nash featured in a double century stand with Chanderpaul in that game in St Kitts and shares Chanderpaul’s temperament of ‘batting long’ but like the aging Tiger he has not been in the best of form lately.
Chanderpaul, who hit three fours in his 73-ball 30 was caught at extra cover when a ball from Kumar ‘stopped’ on him as he drove ‘on the up’ and the West Indies were in tatters at 149-5, with both overnight batsmen gone inside the first half hour’s play.
Baugh joined Sarwan in the club of ducks when he pushed forward to Harbhajan and was taken at short leg at 150-6.
Sammy arrived to negative remarks from some in the crowd in the homeland of Chris Gayle and under tremendous mental pressure hit Harbhajan for three consecutive sixes to race to 18 from his first four balls.
Sammy then drove Kumar to the mid-wicket boundary but his T20 style all-out attack with over a day and two sessions to go was never going to last and he soon drove the first ball from Mishra and was caught as West Indies sunk to 181-7.
Nash hung around and Ravi Rampaul swung his bat hard. He struck Mishra for a four after missing a succession of deliveries from Sharma as the West Indies seemed in a great haste to get the match over as quickly as possible.
The ailment of the shocking shot selection seemed to have infected even the usually responsible Nash, who missed a nondescript swipe across the line and was leg before to Mishra for nine at 188-8.
An almighty swing from Rampaul off Sharma flew past the slip cordon for four while a technically correct off-drive from Fidel Edwards and an immaculate cover driven boundary followed by a pugnacious sweep from Rampaul that would have made any top order batsman proud, provided some entertainment in a depressing morning session for West Indian supporters.
Rampaul dumped Harbhajan into the North Stand over long-off before fending at a nasty bouncer from Sharma to the Keeper at 223-9.
As Bishoo arrived five minutes before Lunch with 103 still required for victory, the overly optimistic West Indian supporters would have taken comfort in the fact that in 1993 in Antigua against Pakistan, Carl Hooper and Courtney Walsh added a West Indies record 106 runs for the last wicket.
By Lunch West Indies were 226-9 needing exactly 100 for victory but more realistically India were one-wicket away from wrapping up the match. Bishoo, who has 16 wickets from his four Tests and averages just over 20 with the bat, played positively as he and Edwards prolonged the match for 10.2 overs in the second session.
But in the end it was another Test defeat, their second in a row after losing to Pakistan in St Kitts and the march towards returning to the glory days of the 1980s seems to be going one step forward and two steps backwards as the batsmen in particular continue to lack consistency.
Scores: India 246 (Raina 82, Harbhajan 70, Edwards 4-56) and 252 (Dravid 112, Sammy 4-52, Bishoo 4-65) beat West Indies 173 (Barath 64, Ishant 3-29) and 262 (Praveen 3-42) by 63 runs.
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