Mumbai: West Indies snatched a thrilling draw with the scores level after India failed to score the three runs they needed for victory in the last over on a riveting final day of the third and final Test on Saturday.
Needing two runs to win off the last ball, Ravichandran Ashwin and Varun Aaron scampered a single before Ashwin was run out while going back for an improbable second run, with India finishing on 242-9.
It was only the second time that a Test has been drawn with the scores level. The other instance was when England failed to beat Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 1996.
Seventeen wickets fell on the Wankhede Stadium pitch, which was a batting paradise on the first four days with both teams posting huge first innings totals.
Spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin forced a batting collapse in the first session as West Indies were bundled out for 134 in their second innings.
Half-centuries from Virender Sehwag (60) and Virat Kohli (63) put India on course for victory and a 3-0 series whitewash as they chased a target of 243 runs from 64 overs.
However, West Indies struck back by picking up crucial wickets during the closing stages to halt India’s progress.
Sehwag stroked a chancy 60 off 65 balls and added 82 runs for the second wicket with Rahul Dravid (33) to launch India’s charge towards the target.
Sehwag, who was dropped three times, hit eight boundaries before he was finally caught by West Indies captain Darren Sammy off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo while trying a cheeky reverse paddle sweep.
Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (3) fell soon after in similar fashion, trying to drive on the up against part-time off-spinner Marlon Samuels, and were caught at short mid-wicket.
West Indies had a sniff of victory at that stage with India at 113 for four, but Vangipurappu Laxman (31) and Kohli steadied the ship with a 52-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Kohli notched up his second fifty in the match with three boundaries and a six and took his team close to the target but his dismissal, with India still needing 19 runs to win, put the pressure back on India’s tailenders.
In the morning, the visiting batsmen, put under pressure by the generous turn on offer, played some atrocious shots and helped India’s spinners give life to a match that had looked like ending in a draw for the past two days.
Resuming on their overnight score of 81-2, the tourists succumbed meekly in just 95 minutes in the morning, losing their last eight wickets in 23.2 overs as Ojha (6-47) and Ashwin (4-34) dominated.
Left-arm spinner Ojha added four more wickets to his overnight tally of two and bowled in an uninterrupted spell on the final day, extracting good turn and bounce.
Ashwin, who notched his maiden test century on Friday, took four wickets to add to his five-wicket haul in the first innings.
Kraigg Brathwaite (35) and first-innings centurion Darren Bravo (48) added 61 for the third wicket, the only notable partnership in the innings, but Braithwaite’s dismissal in the fifth over of the morning opened the floodgates as West Indies lost their last eight wickets for 43 runs.
Result: Match Drawn.
Man Of The Match: Ravichandran Ashwin (India).
Winner Of The Series: India by 2-0.
Man Of The Series: Ravichandran Ashwin (India).
Comments by both captains & by man of the series:
Darren Sammy (Captain of West Indies): ”Congrats to India for winning the series. This match is a great advert for Test cricket, like Australia-South Africa. We were looking for the win, and then tie (sic). Bishoo bowling on one leg. Lion-heart. Marlon bowling 20-something overs on the bounce. Ravi’s bowling. I know we didn’t bat well today, but we fought. We knew it was going to be tough on these wickets, but we stuck it out. We showed we are improving. It’s about putting both innings together, and we will be better competitors. Especially in this match to see this inexperienced line-up post 590 against India in India was good. We lost the last tow matches in an hour. One session each took the game away from us. But we are fighting, and I am sure the fans are happy with the improvement.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain of India): ”The final day was superb, and we would have forgotten the first four days, which can be called boring to some extent. The Last time we played at CCI, there was something in the morning, and it fizzled out. We weren’t expecting it to as much as it did today. When batting we lost wickets at the wrong time. Also they played good cricket. It’s a lesson it’s not yours until it’s in your kitty. Also I would love to see wickets turning this much on the first evening so we don’t have to wait five days for the excitement.”
Ravichandran Ashwin (Man Of The Series): The last two overs I thought Ishant played really well. The field was up for him, so I thought it was a better chance of squeezing a boundary through. The last two balls I wanted to defend first and then go after the last ball. Didn’t work out unfortunately. Never thought it would so close. as it got old, the ball bounced and stopped, but it was definitely not unplayable. Ojha bowled really well, and built the pressure.”