India scripts fascinating win, goes 1-0 up

Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2002, 7:31 [IST]
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India scripted a fascinating and a well-earned victory at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain defeating West Indies by 37 runs. Needing 313 runs for a victory West Indies was bowled for 275. This victory took India 1-0 up in the five-match Cable and Wireless Series.

It was a complete team effort with each and every player contributing at some time or the other. In the bowling department it was Srinath who was the spearhead while the others played their support cast to perfection. In the batting department Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly all contributed. The day was nicely set up by Nehra who picked up the two most valuable wickets - that of Lara and Hopper, to have India on its way to a victory.

Nehra first induced Lara to edge one to Dravid at first slip and then snapped up Hooper caught at square-let in his very next over. Although there was a revival of sorts between the last recognised pair of Chanderpaul and Gayle, India was always in the match given the hopeless West Indian tail, which starts as early as number 7. Starting the day at 131 for two West Indies lost Lara at 157 and Hooper at 164. Once this was done every one knew India was through, however, there was one more hurdle in form of Chanderpaul/Gayle that India encountered. The pair put on 73-runs for the fifth wicket, which raised hopes of a rear-guard West Indian win.

Gayle and Chanderpaul looked poised and in control, not showing any signs of panic. Harbhajan, in particular, was effectively combated by this duo. The pair even handled the new ball well and just when it looked like the pair would see West Indies through, Gayle gave it away. Zaheer Khan coming in one-change bowled one slightly wide off Gayle who went for an expansive drive only to hand Harbhajan a straight forward catch at point. This signaled the end for the West Indies (237 for 5). Junior Murray coming in with a lot of pressure behind his back caved into the pressure getting himself needlessly run out (238 for 6).

Srinath clean bowled Dillon first ball (238 for seven) and then a small partnership for the eighth wicket before Srinath had Black fending one to Shiv Sunder Das at forward short leg (254 for eight). West Indies went into tea at 263 for eight and in the very first over after tea Nehra uprooted Sanford's stump to make it 263 for nine and to take India that much more closer to a sweet victory away from home. And then there were 12 tantalising runs for the West Indies and agonizing for the Indians, and a little bit of drama before the curtains came down on what was a truly hard fought Test match. It was all over when Cuffy, who so far had been content in blocking, swashed at one to be caught at gully.

Man-of-the-match: V V S Laxman.

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