India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 5th day November 26, 2011

Would have been heartbreaking to lose - Sammy

N Hunter

West Indies are lucky to have a leader like Darren Sammy. Throughout this series - as he has so far in his captaincy tenure - Sammy once again proved that with commitment, his team can achieve many things. Only South Africa have known the taste of beating India in India in the last five years. Yet Sammy's inexperienced bunch came very close today to nearly shock India on a cathartic final day's play which ended with the game being drawn off the last ball.

It was a dramatic day of Test cricket, which would not have been possible without the courage displayed by West Indies. Their captain could not bowl with a sore hamstring and hobbled around the field all afternoon; their specialist spinner, Devendra Bishoo, also limped with a thigh strain picked up while batting in the first innings; their experience-thin bowling attack had to not only counter the formidable Indian batting but also a vociferous home crowd hurling abuses.

Sammy had to keep thinking on one leg if he had to stop India from securing a 3-0 whitewash. The day had started off with the West Indies batsmen shockingly throwing away their wickets in complete contrast to the admirable application they had shown on the first two days. "We took the position for granted," Sammy said. "Knowing that we had scored 590 in the first innings we relaxed a little bit. Some of the shots played were not called for. At the end we paid the price for it. I know the coach will definitely talk about it. It is about us being mentally prepared to bat in both innings of a Test."

A target of 243 in 64 overs did not seem out of hand for India. Virat Kohli had said the previous evening that India could chase down a target in one-and-a-half sessions. The game was on when Virender Sehwag, having started steadily, was clocking boundaries at his usual rate as the Indian boat streamed at five runs an over.

It did not deter Sammy and his troops. He had read the final day pitch well and made Samuels bowl for nearly three hours for a marathon spell of 25 overs. From the other end, Bishoo gamely challenged the Indians to take him on.

Sammy knew the pressure would get to India once the wickets fell. He changed his field constantly but purposefully, encouraging his bowlers to pitch attacking lines. Ravi Rampaul got the old ball to reverse wonderfully. On Friday, Rampaul bore the brunt of abuses from the Wankhede crowd once he cut short Sachin Tendulkar's fairy tale. He said he would not step out of the team hotel last evening. Today afternoon he stepped out to deliver an attacking spell of fast bowling that accounted for VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni.

Eventually the nerves got to the Indians as partnerships were broken at critical times. Even when 55 runs were need off the 15 mandatory overs, West Indies knew they had a chance. "I did not foresee that to be happening to be honest," Sammy said of the drawn result. "But you know every disappointment is a blessing in disguise. We didn't bat well but the way the bowlers came out there and showed character, fight … Bishoo, on one leg, bowling 50-plus overs in the match; Samuels bowling 20 [25] straight overs; Ravi, Fidel, unfortunately I could not bowl in that innings."

Sammy said his team showed the same determination evident in June during the final Test of the home series against India in Dominica where Rampaul did not bowl in the first innings. "We showed fight in Dominica when we had three bowlers. Today again, a bowler down, we really showed a lot of fight. That is a positive we could take from this series; we really kept our head up when we were down."

According to Sammy, when India took just 24 runs between overs 40 to 50 and lost Dhoni, he knew that they were switched to the conservative mode after Sehwag had built early momentum. "I thought the way they [Kohli and Dhoni] were batting they might not go for the runs because Ravi was bowling a good spell."

"I was speaking to Kirk [Edwards] at cover and he said 'win or draw, win or draw, we can't lose this, we won't lose this.' That was the belief in the guys. The way we batted (in the first innings), it would have been very heartbreaking for us to come back and lose the game."
Darren Sammy

But as the countdown began and R Ashwin took India to the doorstep of victory, Sammy conceded he was edgy and did not rule out even a tie. "All sorts of things were going through my mind coming down to the end. At one point the tied Test went through my mind.

"I was speaking to Kirk [Edwards] at cover and he said 'win or draw, win or draw, we can't lose this, we won't lose this.' That was the belief in the guys. The way we batted (in the first innings), it would have been very heartbreaking for us to come back and lose the game."

Under Sammy, West Indies have become a feisty bunch, drawing series in Sri Lanka and against Pakistan at home before winning in Bangladesh.

If there is one person who stands alongside Sammy in this steady revival of sorts, it is the West Indies coach Ottis Gibson. "For me on a personal note, he has a way bringing out the belief in the team. You can see how the bowling unit has progressed and improved well. We came from not being able to bowling out teams twice and then bowling out India who were No.1 back then in the Caribbean; travelled to Sri Lanka and enforced the follow-on; we drew Pakistan at home and here in India we competed really well.

"The guys are slowly but surely believing that we could achieve things like we showed in the last Test - following on and scoring over 400 runs in the second innings. In the first Test we were in a position to win. Gibson keeps telling us that in order to win we must create an opportunity. So far we have been creating lots of opportunities to win. It is about getting that belief that we could move on and win."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    With regard to The captaincy of Darren Sammy, this will always be a contentious issue. A captain must have three qualities. 1) A good knowledge of the game, 2)to be able to keep his place on the team, 3) have the respect of his peers. Sammy's numbers with the bat disappoint, especially certain situatons call for a captain's leadership and stability, however his bowling is credible and timely, and his fielding, though many neglect to mention is top quality. I would back him to take any catch on the field, no matter how difficult. When the west Indies to return to winning ways, one would need to look back to Sammy's impact on this young team in a period of adversity as one of the catalysts if not the main one. His dedicaiton and commitment to West Indies speaks volumes. Intangibles are equally as significant as stats and results. Sammy, use every opportunity you get as captain to prove your doubtors wrong and also improve your game. Keep up the fight.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    Asa Windies fan I have mixed views about the "progress" of West Indies cricket. Firstly, we are caught up in the past whereby we as a generation are accustomed to winning, which is a good thing, because this tradiiton has to be maintained, and serve as a prerequisite for players, coaching staff and management(the board) to qualify for and adhere to. By this I mean standards must be raised and performance levels met, positive attitudes displayed and most of all realistic goals set, and a timeframe to achieve the above. The reality is the present situaiton. Very few positive results on the field, inconsistent batting and bowling performances, yet the heart to fight back as displayed in the final test. to say that we accept medeocrity is valid, but still harsh for a young team, still learning its trade, considering that most have grown up accustomed to seeing windies lose. They Hear of The legacy, but as they say, "seeing is believing"

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    its an absolute rubbish to call sportsmanship for calling the physio on the field to reduce the available overs for the opponent. India are clear winners at the end. Say if India had one more over, Ashwin would comfortably stayed with single and in the next over, had scored the needed 1 run to win the game. Even Ohja would have did it if Ashwin failed.

  • ashok on November 28, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    poor sportsmanship by Sammy to reduce the bowling by one over telling that he has called physio on the field... 28 needed of 7 overs were reduced to 28 needed of 6.

  • Alex on November 28, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    No ifs and buts. Sammy got the draw and showed indians , it won't be cake walk. He did n't have great players but matched the indians with pure heart and effort and strategy. India would have wonif not the brain dead running by ashwin. I take draw just for all the hard work put by sammy &co. i hope india ( all 11 members) play like chetah. We need young blood. Sachin choked nth time. And all sachin fans ran away. :)

  • Rahul on November 28, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    Some comments like FairGameFan are really hilarious. When Ponting assumed captaincy, his first series was against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. In all 3 tests, SL got first innings lead and still Australia won all 3 tests. That shows team's character to fight back from adversity. India did that, though it was complacency on their part to feel WI as BD team. For WI fans who are crying hoarse over Gayle and Sarwan's exclusion, though this team under Sammy is also getting beaten like team under Gayle it at least is showing some character. The team is gelling well and given exposure within 2-3 years if team nucleus remains same it would be challenging higher ranked teams. Though I m not a big fan of Sammy, you have to admire his resilience. Knowing anything he do is criticized, he is going on and on keeping WI flag on his sleeve. Games do need such characters. If Gayle needs to know what he should apologize for or retract statements, seriously there is something wrong with him.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 4:40 GMT

    nice to see test was AUS vs SA and now Ind vs WI....test macth saga goes on..enjoy

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    Why are west indians happy? When do teams score 500+ then lose a test match. WI were lucky to save that game.

  • Steven on November 28, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    The thought that SAMMY is am inspirational leader is rubbish. Russel should have been playing for him and Ramdin should have been playing for Baugh. That is a better side


  • A on November 28, 2011, 0:53 GMT

    Hats off to both the teams! What a breathtaking game. Shows that nothing can match a test cricket, ever. And, as a huge Indian fan, cannot but doff my hat to Sammy and his boys. What a great job fighting. Test cricket needs less minnows and more parity. And unlike the team that visited our shores last, and showed how not to be sporting, this Windies team showed how to be good sports throughout. All the best you guys, may you continue to build and keep getting better.

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