India take series with eight-wicket win at Chennai
If it was action that people came looking for, they would not have been disappointed by the fourth day's play at the MA Chidambaram stadium at Chepauk. Harbhajan Singh gave the ball a royal tweak, sent the West Indies into a tail-spin, Virender Sehwag blazed away, and a victory target of 81 was breezed past in just 21.1 overs. India have now taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in this three-Test series for the Exide Cup.
The day began with the West Indies on 186 for four, with Ramnaresh Sarwan taking his side towards a fighting second-innings score. But with a searing, perfectly directed delivery, Zaheer Khan ensured that the three-figure mark eluded Sarwan once more. Trapped lbw in the 72nd over of the innings for 78 (297 minutes, 214 balls, four fours, one six), Sarwan had failed to keep the Indian bowlers at bay for long on the day.
The dismissal of Sarwan provided enough of a window for Harbhajan to work his magic. Bamboozling the West Indian lower-order with a spell of bowling that took him past Muttiah Muralitharan as the leading wicket-taker of the calendar year, the Punjab offie scalped as many as three wickets in a single over. In the 75th over, Harbhajan Singh sent back three West Indian batsmen. Ryan Hinds (7), Gareth Breese (0) and Merv Dillon (4) all perished as they played against the spin. With four for 79, Harbhajan was the pick of the bowlers - and the eventual Man of the Match for his incisive bowling and batting cameo - as the tourists crumbled to 229.
India's response was as swift as it was decisive. Sehwag, with his mind set on going after the spinners, launched himself into several massive drives, two of which sailed over the ropes. On 33, off just 31 balls, Sehwag tried to loft Carl Hooper one time too many and was beaten in the flight and stumped.
Sanjay Bangar, in an unusually aggressive mood, scored 20 before edging Hooper to Chris Gayle in the slips. With a steady drizzle pattering down and heavy clouds hanging over the floodlit stadium, Sachin Tendulkar (16) and Rahul Dravid (6) knocked off the winning runs.
Looking back, Sourav Ganguly will say that everything went perfectly for India - well, almost everything. The skipper is nursing a very sore lower back after a bone-crunching collision with Anil Kumble when the pair both attempted to take a catch. But then again, some would say that even the collision was a reflection of the boyish enthusiasm with which India rushed to a comfortable win.