Port of Spain: India skipper Saurav Ganguly on Tuesday praised his fast bowlers for a memorable 37-run victory over the West Indies in the second Test at the Queen's Park Oval.
This was India's third win in 35 Tests in the West Indies, the previous two also coming at the same venue in 1971 and 1976. "Our fast bowlers looked disciplined, especially Nehra and Zaheer. They stuck to the line," said Ganguly. Left-arm fast bowler Nehra grabbed three for 72 and Zaheer two for 55 as the West Indies was all out for 275 in its second innings on the fifth and final day, chasing a challenging 313-run target. They were brilliantly supported by veteran paceman Javagal Srinath, who finished with three for 69 off 32 overs. "Srinath is a class performer. The young guys supported him well," said Ganguly.
Nehra, who turns 23 on April 29, set up the Indian win when he removed batting star Brian Lara (47) and in-form captain Carl Hooper (22) in his opening two overs. "The dismissal of Lara and Hooper was the turning point of the match. We knew we had to get Lara out early to win the Test," Ganguly said, adding it was a good feeling to have won away from home. "Obviously, it's a good feeling. This is the fourth Test we have won abroad in more than a year. It's very satisfying. I don't know whether it's the sweetest moment of my career as captain. The five-match series is not yet over." India has won four away Tests under Ganguly's captaincy, beating Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and now the West Indies.
The Indian captain said his team was a bit worried when left-handed Shivnaraine Chanderpaul (67 not out) and Chris Gayle (52) were at the crease. The pair put on 73 for the fifth wicket. "We came back into the game once we got Gayle out. We were a little worried when he was batting with Chanderpaul." The West Indies faltered after Gayle's dismissal at 237, losing its last five wickets for a meagre 38 runs. Last-man Cameron Cuffy batted 55 minutes for his four runs, but Ganguly denied his team was under pressure at that stage. "I don't think we were tense in the end.
They were still 40 behind and we needed just one wicket. Cuffy batted well, but it was difficult for Chanderpaul to score so many runs with a number 11 batsman." Indian coach John Wright said the win had boosted the team's morale ahead of the third Test, starting in Barbados on May 2. "We've to build on this win. It's very good for our confidence and self-belief. I think we can still do better. We're looking forward to the next Test at Barbados," he said.
Hooper said nothing was wrong with his team's batting approach against a tight Indian pace attack. "I thought from the outset they (Indian bowlers) would make runs difficult to come by. They bowled straight. The thing to do was to capitalise on the bad balls and keep the scoreboard ticking with singles. "I think it was a bit unfortunate that we lost Brian and then almost immediately myself.
That put the pressure on Gayle and Chanderpaul." The West Indies captain fell playing shots, pulling Nehra to Shiv Das at mid-wicket. "I'm not going to flog myself for that shot. Basically, I was batting well. Maybe there was a slight error in judgement on the length of the ball. These things happen. "Nehra picked up a couple of crucial wickets. He's got the knack of coming back and getting breakthroughs. Srinath also bowled well," Hooper said, adding he was disappointed with the result. "Very disappointing. Coming into the last day, we really fancied our chances and it was disappointing how we ended up 30 short. Right till the very end I thought we had a chance."