(Cricinfo) West Indies collapsed from 101 for 1 to 168 all out, plummeting to an innings defeat inside three days at Eden Gardens. R Ashwin, who completed his second Test hundred in the morning, made key incisions in the West Indies top order before Mohammed Shami blew the rest away with another controlled display of reverse swing. Shami took nine wickets in the game, the most by an India fast bowler on debut. Six of them were bowled, all with the old ball.
Ashwin ended with five wickets to go with his hundred. The batting landmark came in the first session when he and debutant centurion Rohit Sharma stretched the lead past 200. West Indies had nearly halved the deficit for the loss of only Chris Gayle when they were demolished either side of tea by Ashwin and then Shami.
West Indies lost their last nine batsmen in 23.3 overs, a reflection of how quickly a Test can turn on the subcontinent with reverse swing and spin. West Indies would have been eyeing a decent lead when Kieran Powell and Darren Bravo put on 68 for the second wicket. The new ball did little and the spinners were toiling without too much bite and luck.
Powell took 31 deliveries to score his first run and on 7, became the third West Indies batsman in the game to be dropped off the luckless Pragyan Ojha. Gayle was beaten and edged outside off, but responded in the manner he knows, hitting seven fours in his 33. In exactly the same manner that Powell had thrown it away in the first innings, Gayle tried to pull Bhuvneshwar Kumar from way outside off, and top-edged to square leg.
Bravo and Powell could not match Gayle’s pace, but they also cut down on risk. Unless the spinners bowled too full or short, they defended carefully, mostly off the back foot. The turn was largely slow, but invariably one would kick from the rough or stay low. To their credit, Bravo and Powell did not panic and try to hit out.
Playing back to spin was getting increasingly dangerous, though, and Powell found that out when an Ashwin delivery pitched on a good length and hit him on the shin with tea only two overs away. Marlon Samuels fell to Shami for the second time in the match, but this time with help from umpire Nigel Llong, who gave the batsman lbw even though the reversing inswinger was headed down the leg side.
A shocked West Indies went to tea on 112 for 3 but the real panic set in after the break. Bravo became the third West Indies top-order batsman to fall in the thirties. His partner Powell had gone to low bounce, but Bravo departed to extra lift. In the second over after tea, Ashwin got a wide one to kick, Bravo still went for the cut and could not keep it down. That was the one shot he had been eager to play in an otherwise cautious stay, and he fell by it.
Shami had developed some serious rhythm by now. Denesh Ramdin was again found short at No. 6, inside-edging a reversing short-of-a-length delivery to short leg. Darren Sammy following Ramdin has to be one of the weakest batting combinations in Test cricket. The West Indies captain tried to hang on, but soon had his middle stump uprooted by another reversing delivery. Like in the first innings, Shivnarine Chanderpaul watched the meltdown, his propensity to take a single off the first ball of an over with the tail only hastening the end.
The tail fell apart in no time, handing India their fifth successive win, and West Indies their first loss after six consecutive wins against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. It was a gutting end to the match for Shane Shillingford, who laboured through 55 overs to pick up six wickets.
Shillingford had lacked support from the second spinner Veerasammy Permaul, who could not trouble the batsmen. There was reverse available in the morning with a 16-overs old ball but unlike Shami, Tino Best had little control over it. To add to his limited batting, Sammy could not do anything with the ball.
Rohit and Ashwin looked set to make West Indies toil into the second session when umpire Richard Kettleborough ended Rohit’s innings on 177. He had padded up to Permaul but replays showed the ball would have missed off stump. Shillingford bowled Ashwin on 124 to claim his fifth wicket, but like his fellow bowlers, the West Indies batsmen failed to back their offspinner’s efforts.