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The Report by Siddarth Ravindran
November 14, 2013
India 157 for 2 (Vijay 43, Tendulkar 38*) trail West Indies 182 (Powell 48, Ojha 5-40, Ashwin 3-45) by 25 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Features : Ashwin the fastest to 100 Test wickets in over 80 years
News : Ojha undaunted by West Indies' attacking approach
Features : Sammy's shot reflects West Indies' poor commitment
Features : Tendulkar's exquisite straight drive
Features : The crowd at Tendulkar's feet
Matches: India v West Indies at Mumbai
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Rarely have fans of a team in as dominant a position as India were at the Wankhede Stadium felt this tense. In the first two sessions, West Indies had served up another dose of inept batting to roll over for 182, and then India's openers battered 77 at nearly a run-a-ball. That's when Shane Shillingford struck twice in an over, to the delirious cheers of the home fans, and brought Sachin Tendulkar to the batting crease, perhaps for the final time.
The knowledge that one false stroke could mark the end of the career of India's best-loved cricketer made it a nerve-wracking experience, even for the lucky few who had managed to wrangle hard-to-find tickets. Whether Tendulkar felt a similar anxiety or not, he produced an innings of such composure that some fans wondered why he had announced his retirement. In about 80 minutes in the middle, he showed off some of his signature strokes including the classical cover drive and the effortless punch down the ground.
The day began with a series of tributes to Tendulkar - the BCCI president N Srinivasan handed him a memento, a painted portrait was presented to him, the West Indies side gave him a framed autographed shirt, the coin at the toss was specially minted in his likeness - and ended with fans euphoric over having watched him bat one more time. And, as has always been the case with Tendulkar, they were hoping for one more century from the man who already has 51 of them in Tests.
West Indies were hoping for a century from at least one of their batsmen as well. Every Darren Sammy press conference is littered with talk about sensible batting, the need to shelve rash strokes and for the team to grind out overs. No one seems to be getting the message, least of all the captain himself, as for the third innings in a row this series, West Indies made a reasonable start before utterly collapsing.
After being asked to bat by MS Dhoni - a decision that surprised the experts - West Indies had progressed to 93 for 2 at lunch, and having played out the traditionally difficult early hours and the new ball, should have been looking for a substantial score. Instead, they slid from 140 for 3 to 182 all out as India's spin pair of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha ripped through the batting.
It wasn't an easy surface to bat on, with Ashwin extracting bounce and turn in the first session itself. The new-look opening pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami constantly attacked the stumps and had the ball swerving both ways. Still, it doesn't excuse a shocking batting display from the visitors though the fans absolutely loved it and the chants of 'We want Sachin' became deafening as the wickets tumbled.
Though Chris Gayle was undone by a rearing delivery early, Kieran Powell survived a nervy start and a straightforward chance at slip and put together the only substantial partnership of the West Indies innings with Darren Bravo. Bravo had a torrid time against Bhuvneshwar, nearly lbw twice after not offering shots to successive deliveries. He decided the best way out was to attack, and produced a couple of gorgeous hits off Ashwin, but the bowler won their battle with a delivery that spun and bounced which had Bravo caught-behind.
After lunch, there were a couple of rare sights. First, an Indian quick was operating with four slips and a gully as Shami tried to induce Marlon Samuels to drive outside off. Samuels played a bunch of loose strokes, eventually nicking a flighted delivery from Ojha to slips.
Then, in another surprise, Chanderpaul - the man known more for his crease-occupation skills than his big hitting - came out looking to attack. He slammed his second ball for six over midwicket, and was always on the lookout for the quick single. He was dismissed by perhaps the ball of the innings from Bhuvneshwar, who got it to pitch around middle and zip across, forcing Chanderpaul to play, resulting in a nick to the slips.
That was followed by the worst shot of the innings. Sammy, already facing plenty of criticism over his place in the side, tried to slog across the line on his second delivery to hole out for a duck. After that, it was only a matter of time as Ashwin and Ojha made use of the helpful conditions to slice through West indies' brittle tail. The only blemish in the innings for India was the three regulation chances put down at slip.
M Vijay made amends for one of those misses with a stroke-filled innings. Shikhar Dhawan continued to find international cricket easy, hitting boundaries at will as India's openers made the pitch and bowling look docile. Dhawan holed out attempting to sweep a ball from outside off and two balls later Vijay was caught at bat-pad - cue possibly the loudest cheer for a home team losing a wicket, as Tendulkar walked out to a guard of honour and events of the first five hours of play were largely forgotten.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough
After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test