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July 21 2019
India wins with a day to spare, goes 1-0 up
09 November 2011

The march towards victory had an inevitable air and for a brief while the attention was riveted on whether Sachin Tendulkar would reach his 100th international hundred.

India defeated the West Indies by five wickets in the first Test that concluded with a day to spare here at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground while Tendulkar will have to wait for his historical century.

However, Tendulkar through his 76 (148b, 10x4), had done enough to ensure that M.S. Dhoni's men had no need to chew nails while chasing the victory target.

The fourth-innings man

And finally V.V.S. Laxman (58 n.o., 105b, 6x4), who revels with a monk's equanimity in the fourth innings of a match, was at the crease when India scored 276 for five to seal the match, 32 minutes after lunch on the fourth day.

Wednesday dawned with hope resting on the shoulders of Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid while India resumed at 152 for two and needing another 124 runs to secure a 1-0 lead.

The West Indies skipper Darren Sammy and Fidel Edwards shared the initial morning spells and Tendulkar was positive right through.

Superb delivery

Sammy was clipped off the toes in the very first over but Edwards bowled a stunner to Dravid.

The ball swung away, pitched and then darted in sharply to clean up the stumps while Dravid reached out to whip it through the on-side.

With India's sheet-anchor gone, Laxman walked in at 162 for three and the wristy artist found a warm welcome as Edwards drifted towards his pads. The dainty flick was essayed and soon Laxman and Tendulkar settled into a steady rhythm as the runs came at 4.41 an over in their 71-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Laxman kept threading fours as the West Indies seamers in a bid to pin him to the crease, strayed down the leg-side. Laxman's fluidity and Tendulkar's finesse set a breathless tandem and the usual nerves seen while pursuing small targets, never surfaced.

Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo too never troubled the pair and when Ravi Rampaul came on, Tendulkar glanced one fine and drove another past cover. Suddenly the sub-text of the 100th international hundred began to shimmer.

The sparse crowd spread across the venue, sensed the occasion and the murmurs and claps began.

Sadly some irate fans tracking the game on websites pushed hero-worship to the limit and made snide remarks about the need for Laxman to slow down as the maestro needed his runs!

Steady trot

Out on the pitch, the middle-order veterans went at a steady trot with an Indian triumph being the primary benchmark.

There were a few blips too as once Laxman set off for a single and quickly turned back but a scrambling Tendulkar rapidly retraced his steps.

The duo met up, explanations were swapped and much later there was a sedentary moment as Tendulkar refused a leg-bye while Bishoo and Sammy, who fielded the ball racing towards short fine-leg, seemed bemused.

Trapped in front

In retrospect the leg-bye could have been taken because in the same over, Tendulkar tried to pull, missed the line and was trapped right in front.

Laxman and Yuvraj Singh then anchored India to a lunch score of 254 for four and on resumption, kept the scoreboard ticking.

A real turnaround

The match's drama was not finished yet and when the scores were tied, Sammy crashed one through Yuvraj's stumps.

The southpaw squatted on the turf but the ball was not as low as Yuvraj indicated. Dhoni immediately walked in and watched Laxman tap Kraigg Brathwaite past square-leg for the winning run and truly it was a turnaround for a team that had suffered a 95-run first innings deficit.

More than that, the triumph, coming as it did after the 0-4 loss in Tests against England, was most welcome and the hope for glad tidings lingered as debutant R. Ashwin won the ‘Man-of-the-Match' award.

It was perhaps a fine gift to the off-spinner ahead of his wedding on Sunday.

 

 

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