KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – India needed a mere half-hour after lunch on the fourth day to quell West Indies’ resistance and send the hosts plunging to a 63-run defeat with over a day to spare in the first Test here yesterday.
Starting the day on 131 for three in pursuit of a challenging 326 for victory, West Indies suffered yet another middle order collapse to slump to 262 all out at Sabina Park.
Elegant stroke-maker Darren Bravo top scored with 41 while tail-ender Ravi Rampaul hit a cameo 34 from 32 balls, but India’s varied attack proved too much to handle on a wearing pitch.
Seamers Praveen Kumar (3-42) and Ishant Sharma (3-81) took three wickets apiece, while leg-spinner Amit Mishra (2-62), gave good support.
On 226 for nine at lunch, the Windies battled courageously on resumption with Devendra Bishoo (26) and Fidel Edwards (15 not out) extending their last wicket stand to 39 before India sealed victory to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The defeat also extended West Indies unflattering record of having not won a Test against top-ranked opposition since they beat England here two years ago.
Hope abounded at the start of the day with the Windies needing 195 runs to win with seven wickets standing but that optimism was quickly extinguished when they lost three key wickets inside the first hour.
Left-handed Darren Bravo, resuming on 30, looked all business as he reeled off a sweetly-timed cover drive for four off Sharma.
But in the next over from Kumar, he wandered too far his stumps to an innocuous delivery and was bowled behind his back at 148 for four.
Veteran batsman Shiv Chanderpaul then followed in Kumar’s next over, pushing a gentle drive to Suresh Raina at cover after adding six to his overnight 24.
Fourteen balls later, Carlton Baugh, celebrating his 29th birthday, was caught close in off off-spinner Harbhajan Singh without scoring, as West Indies lost three wickets for two runs in the space of 28 balls to leave them with a virtual impossible task of winning the game.
Captain Darren Sammy relieved some tension when he blasted an aggressive 25 from 11 balls, dominating a 31-run, seventh wicket stand with Brendan Nash (9).
The right-hander smashed three successive sixes off Harbhajan to inject some level of cheer into the Windies innings, as a glimmer of hope remained.
However, Sammy fell tamely when he drove Mishra into VVX Laxman’s lap at extra cover at 181 for seven and Nash’s poor form continued when he was lbw to one that never got up from Mishra.
With defeat beckoning, Rampaul played with gay abandon, striking six fours and a beautiful six inside out over long-off off Harbhajan.
He eventually gloved a sharp lifter from Sharma for wicketkeeper MS Dhoni to take a fine leaping catch and Edwards and Bishoo prolonged the agony before Raina accounted for Bishoo with his part-time spin to seal the deal.