West Indies triumph as Oval nightmare haunts India

Published: Monday, May 6, 2002, 22:35 [IST]
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Bridgetown: India failed to bury the Kensington Oval spectre as it crashed to a 10- wicket defeat in the third Test against the West Indies here on Sunday. India, trailing by 292, was dismissed for 296 before suffering its seventh defeat in eight Tests at this venue since 1952-53.

The West Indies squared the five-match series 1-1 with this emphatic win, having lost the second Test by 37 runs at Port-of-Spain at Trinidad. The hosts scored the five runs needed for victory off eight balls, with Stuart Williams smashing off spinner Harbhajan Singh for the winning boundary. Paceman Mervyn Dillon was named man-of-the-match for his eight-wicket match-haul, which proved vital in securing the West Indies' first victory in nine Tests. West Indies captain Carl Hooper said his team had outplayed the tourists in every department of the game. "It was one of the Test matches where we bowled and batted well as a unit," he said. "The bowlers did a great job early by bowling them out for 102 and then the batsmen scored a lot of runs. "The good thing was the win was convincing. We outplayed them in every department of the game." India appeared to be chasing a mirage after having lost four wickets for 169 on Saturday and the task of saving the game proved beyond the reach of the last pair of specialist batsmen, skipper Saurav Ganguly and Venkatsai Laxman.

Ganguly (60 not out) and tail-ender Zaheer Khan (46) could only delay the inevitable with their entertaining 74-run stand for the eighth wicket after the tourists had been reduced to 211 for 7. Zaheer pulled paceman Adam Sanford for two sixes and edged Cameron Cuffy and Dillon over the slips for two fours during his run-a-ball knock. The 50 partnership came off just 51 balls as Zaheer continued to chance his arms and Ganguly kept rotating the strike, but their efforts were good only enough to avoid an innings defeat. The Indian captain reached his half-century in the penultimate over before lunch when he cut off spinner Carl Hooper for his sixth four. Zaheer fell at the stroke of lunch, caught by wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs off part- time spinner Ramnaresh Sarwan. Sarwan then had Javagal Srinath caught by Chris Gayle in the slips with his first ball after the break.

Earlier, Laxman was the first to perish after adding just 13 to his overnight score of 30. He steered left-arm fast bowler Collins past gully for two fours in the second over of the day and then square-drove for another boundary. But Collins had the last laugh when he had Laxman caught by Hooper, who took a low catch at second slip to expose the long Indian tail. Ganguly, top-scorer in the first innings with 48, again defied the West Indies pace attack with his solid batting, but received support only from Zaheer.

The lower-order batting continued to be India's big worry as wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra and Harbhajan both failed to cope with the West Indies pace attack. Dillon, seeking his second haul of five or more wickets in a Test innings, got his third wicket when he trapped Ratra leg-before for 13 with the second new ball, taken with the score on 194 for 5. Harbhajan also did not last long, inside-edging a Cuffy delivery onto his stumps. India had a mountain to climb after being shot out in the first innings for their sixth-lowest total of 102 against the West Indies on a pitch that was not difficult to bat on. It was a combination of disciplined pace bowling and poor shot-selection, especially in the middle-order ranks, that did the tourists in.

The West Indies batted aggressively to press home the advantage given by their fast bowlers, with Hooper and Shivnarine Chanderpaul hammering hundreds, and Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan half-centuries to virtually bat India out of the match. India's hopes of saving the match evaporated with the second successive failures of middle-order batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Laxman. Master batsman Tendulkar contributed just eight in the match, Dravid 31 and Laxman 44. Ganguly was the lone batsman to play confidently in both innings. The fourth Test begins in Antigua on May 10.


AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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