India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 4th day November 25, 2011

Match fizzles after Ashwin century

106

West Indies 590 and 81 for 2 lead India 482 (Ashwin 103, Tendulkar 94, Dravid 82) by 189 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There was a century at the Wankhede Stadium, but not the one the sell-out crowd came to see. Sachin Tendulkar missed his historic ton by six runs, but the fans at least had the consolation of watching R Ashwin conjure an energetic hundred to become the first Indian since 1962 to take five wickets and score a century in the same match.

When Ashwin walked out, India were facing the possibility of a humiliating follow-on on the flattest of tracks after the West Indies' quicks struck three times with the second new ball, but with the help of Virat Kohli, he sliced the deficit to a far more manageable 108.

In recent times, West Indies' batting has rarely shown the ability to put up strong performances in both innings of a Test, but the all-too-familiar collapse didn't occur in the final session as Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite steadfastly hung on against the spinners.

West Indies' fast bowlers began the day with intent - Ravi Rampaul starting with a bouncer to Tendulkar and Fidel Edwards striking with his first delivery of the day, getting VVS Laxman to edge to gully.

It was all about Tendulkar for the next half an hour though, as he galloped to the nineties with a series of sumptuous strokes. The classic straight drive, an effortless punch past cover, an audacious upper cut over third man for six all suggested Tendulkar was in top form, turning the Wankhede into a buzzing cauldron of noise. Ravi Rampaul switched the mute-button on though, by getting a short-of-length ball to jump at Tendulkar, who edged it to Darren Sammy at second slip. The seemingly interminable wait continues.

The crowd was at its most dejected then, and their mood didn't improve when MS Dhoni was bowled by Sammy soon after. With only the inexperienced Kohli and the bowlers to come, and India needing 60 more to force West Indies to bat again, the follow-on looked a distinct possibility.

All the hoopla may have been around Tendulkar, but it was a far more important day for Kohli, who finally got the chance to show his credentials for the No. 6 spot. He responded well, with an array of wristy flicks, guiding India ever closer to the crucial 391-run mark.

Barring a caught-behind chance on 43, Kohli was barely troubled by the bowling either side of lunch, and his partnership with Ashwin not only avoided the follow-on but swelled towards triple-figures. Kohli progressed to his maiden Test half-century but couldn't carry on, gifting his wicket away while attempting to clear mid-on. There was a scream of disappointment from Kohli, but he has seemingly done enough to at least book a place for the Australia tour.

Another youngster whose tickets for Australia can be confirmed is Ashwin, who continued to find Test cricket easy in his debut series. He used to be an opener at the Under-19 level, and that was reflected during his century, which wasn't a tailender's swing-at-everything effort but a more controlled one.

The early boundaries came through measured drives and flicks, as he outscored Kohli in their partnership. After lunch, two streaky edged fours were bookended by murderous hits over mid-on for six off Bishoo. There were late cuts for four off Edwards and Marlon Samuels, audacious paddles to fine leg after jumping across the stumps on consecutive deliveries, and an air of level-headedness even as he started to run out of partners.

He started to decline the singles towards the end, and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the tension of seeing whether Ashwin could make it to the hundred with last man Pragyan Ojha for company. The No. 11 survived 14 deliveries, including a testing over from Edwards, before Ashwin stabbed the ball past gully in the next over to bring up the century which caps an eventful month in which he has already won the Man-of-the-Match award on Test debut, and got married.

Even with a sizeable first-innings lead, West Indies looked like the only team likely to lose - their batsmen needed to withstand a trial by spin, and even if they succeeded the visitors couldn't risk declaring too early on the fifth morning to push for a victory given the might of the Indian batting.

Ojha caused some early excitement by getting rid of both Adrian Barath and Kirk Edwards within the 11th over, but Brathwaithe again showed that though he may lack flair, he wasn't short on defensive doggedness. At the other end, Bravo continued to bat as fluently as you'd expect from a man who has two centuries in his previous two innings. There was a moment of concern, when he edged a chance to Kohli at forward short leg in the final over of the day but that was put down.

Though the track showed signs of taking spin, the draw remains the likeliest result.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Afridipak on November 26, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    sachin is not a match winner well Said by Shoaib akhtar

  • Harmony111 on November 26, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    @ani_cric :-

    Funny that you say that SRT can't handle pressure AFTER he has scored 94 runs. A lot of batsmen would struggle to score half of those runs, pressure or no pressure.

    In fact it just tells us how great a batsman Sachin is. He is being called as a failure for not scoring a century. That is the level at which he plays. Just like we still remember that Bradman, of all the batsmen, failed to score mere 4 runs in his final innings. This when Bradman had scored heaps of runs all his life.

    By the way, I don't think Sachin looked in any pressure whatsoever. In fact, he looked a bit too fluent to me. He just happened to get out due to a minor mistake. He was trying to do an upper cut for the 3rd time in his innings and the ball got a bit too much to the middle. I was yesterday telling my friends that Sachin has never scored a 100 in an innings if he has scored an upper cut 6. And sadly I was proved right. I hope Sachin gets my hint for the Oz tour.

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    yet another chance to a ton for master blaster.... may d cricket god full fill dat his 100th international ton..... ojha n d chennai express did a very fine job.... another man of d match opportunity to Ashwin..... cheers....

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    'Match fizzles' is right. For me it fizzled out when WI insouciently batted on the the third morning of the Test. But what trauma? Does it refer to Sachin not getting his ton. This will be a one-time landmark in the history of cricket, may be even for the future. So if the achievement makes the great little man sweat and keeps him waiting, it cannot be and shouldn't be termed as trauma for even his fans. They even resent the West Indians even for getting him out; I believe some harsh, unsporting taunts were actually hurled at Ravi Rampaul, the West Indian who took Sachin's wicket. One wonders if they really would prefer a 'soft' 100th ton for their hero, on a platter. Do they really aim to make it 'heist'?

    If he has it the hard way, it adds value to the feat; let us all understand that aspect.

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    ashwin's bowling variations and batting skills are far better than bhajji's, so ashwin is the right choice for the series of down under.

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    @Shan156, how can you say Harbhajan will comeback to Indian side for Australia? Given the recent success of Ashwin, I doubt if team management will like to drop him. Also Bhajji has created lots of controversies against Aussies. So I am sure Ashwin will get the edge over Harbhajan.

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    Well done Ashwin. But I hope team management does not try to make him a genuine all rounder. His focus should be on bowling only and runs should be just bonus for him or else he may become another Irfan Pathan. Coming to Sachin missing hundred. It was sad to see him so near and yet so far. But the positive is if he reaches this milestone against Australia in Australia, the taste will be far better compared to reaching against WI on a flat track. I must salute the mental strength of this man who has to carry this burden of expectation.

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    Ok, so it was disappointing that our great batsman missed out on his century. I have faith it will come soon, whether in the form of an ODI or a Test century, it will come. There are other glaringly obvious great things that have come out of this test - firstly, Darren Bravo - what an entertainer, I loved watching Lara bat and seeing this lad bat is certainly promising for the future of West Indies cricket. Also, as a die-hard Indian supporter, it's great to see the Windies fighting so strongly. Lastly, R Ashwin, great bowler, good with the bat and looks like a cricketer with a great temperament - very promising indeed. Stop talking about Sachin's century and he will get it, when will this country learn that!

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    Congrats Ash.. Excellent century without any slog or power hitting.. I can definitely see a good batsman grooming. One suggestion would be to improve the pull shot to play well 'down under'.

  • RandyOZ on November 26, 2011, 1:56 GMT

    Sachin against shows why he isn't fit for test cricket. He is certainly not a team player and as usual Dravid out performed him. When will Sachin care about team India rather than his personal records?

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