Pacers help India end 26-year Test drought in Windies

Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2002, 22:01 [IST]
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Port of Spain: Young fast bowler Ashish Nehra and veteran Javagal Srinath shared six wickets as India ended a 26-year drought with a 37-run victory over the West Indies in the second Test on Tuesday.

The West Indies, chasing the 18th-highest target of 313 to win a Test, was all out for 275 after tea on the fifth and final day despite a fighting 67 not out by middle- order batsman Shivnaraine Chanderpaul. The Queen's Park Oval proved yet again lucky for India, whose previous two triumphs also came at this venue in 1971 and 1976 under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar and Bishen Singh Bedi, respectively. This was India's first Test win outside the sub-continent in more than a year, the last being against Zimbabwe in the opening match at Bulawayo. A jubilant skipper Saurav Ganguly marked the special occasion hugging team-mates and kissing the ground immediately after the dismissal of last-man Cameron Cuffy (4), who defied the Indian attack for nearly an hour. India owed its third victory in 35 Tests in the West Indies to the pace trio of Nehra (three for 72), Srinath (three for 69) and Zaheer Khan (two for 55), who kept pressure on the hosts from the first over. India thought it had the match already won earlier in the final session. In the 107th over, Chanderpaul drove at Srinath outside the off stump and wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra took a handsome diving catch. But umpire Asoka de Silva decided to refer the incident to the third umpire Eddie Nicholls and after a long delay and numerous replays, the batsman was given not out much to the anger of the Indian team. Nehra, who turns 23 on April 29, set up a rare Indian overseas success with the dismissals of prolific run-getter Brian Lara (47) and in-form skipper Carl Hooper (22) in his probing opening two overs. Zaheer then ended a brief West Indian revival when he had opener Chris Gayle caught by Harbhajan Singh at point with the second new ball, taken after 80 overs at 210 for four. The West Indies lost its last five wickets in the space of 38 runs after Gayle's dismissal, failing to cope with the disciplined Indian pace attack. Gayle, who retired hurt on Monday due to cramps in his forearm, returned to give a scare or two to the Indians with a 73-run stand for the fifth wicket with Chanderpaul. That was the only period when the West Indies looked in the match as both Gayle and Chanderpaul did not hesitate to play strokes all round the wicket. Gayle struck eight fours in his 176-ball 52, but none of the lower-order batsmen stayed long enough at the crease to give Chanderpaul company. Srinath, 32, then got rid of Mervyn Dillon for nought and Marlon Black for three to bring his team on the threshold of victory. Chanderpaul tried to farm the strike, but his effort went in vain as Cuffy cut Zaheer straight to Sanjay Bangar at gully to spark an Indian celebration. The West Indies was always under pressure after the departures of Lara and Hooper. They suffered a big blow when Rahul Dravid caught Lara at first slip off the one that rose a bit and moved away. Lara could add just seven to his overnight score of 40 after the West Indies had resumed at 131for two. Lara was subdued throughout his 55-minute stay at the crease in the morning as Srinath and Zaheer kept a testing line and length during their opening spells. Hooper tried to seize the initiative with counter-attacking, pulling Zaheer for the first four of the day and then surviving a difficult chance when on 12 in a total of 151. He failed to control his pull-shot off Srinath in the next over, but Shiv Das could not reach it after running back from square-leg. Hooper did not curb his strokes, once lofting off spinner Harbhajan over wide mid-on for another boundary. He eventually fell pulling, this time Das making no mistake at mid-wicket. Hooper, who scored a double-century in the opening drawn Test at Gerogetown and 50 in the first innings, left his team struggling at 164 for four. Gayle and Chanderpaul also attacked the Indian bowling in order to ease the pressure on their team. Chanderpaul looked solid during his 162-ball knock, but received no support as the West Indies lower order collapsed against the tight Indian pace attack.

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