Ishant's fourth-innings heroics in rare company
The pitch was a minefield, and two of Rahul Dravid's best half-centuries set a target of 269 for West Indies. The series was level going into this, the last Test, and India needed a good start. By the time Kumble struck for the first time in the fourth innings, 26 of the 33 wickets had fallen to the quicks. Sreesanth had done his bit by removing Chris Gayle and Darren Ganga in his first spell, but once West Indies' middle and lower order began putting together partnerships, it was the metronomic and tireless Kumble who came to the fore. He bowled eight overs in his first spell, and 14.4 in his second and the last of the series, which India won only for the second time in the West Indies, and the first for 35 years.
One of India's finest Test wins. A tale of guts, needle and glory. Shivlal Yadav batted with a broken toe to help Gundappa Viswanath to a hundred. He then bowled 32 overs with a broken toe, but Australia led by 182. Sunil Gavaskar and Denniss Lillee fought, but a riled-up Indian batting responded, scoring more than 300 in their second innings. The target for Australia, though, was only 143, with Kapil Dev and Yadav injured. Before stumps on final day, however, Greg Chappell gave India an opening, getting bowled behind his legs by a Karsan Ghavri long hop. On the final morning, Kapil bowled unchanged for 16.4 overs, straight and on a length on an up-and-down pitch, and took five of the last seven wickets to fall as India won by 59 runs.
India, the No. 1 Test side, had been thumped by an innings in the first Test, and were now playing to avoid humiliation. The pitch was green, and there was weather around throughout the Test to make it a seam-bowling paradise. India lost the toss, but thanks to some disciplined batting managed a first-innings lead, and VVS Laxman's peerless 96 in the second innings set South Africa 303 to win. In response, Graeme Smith, one of the best fourth-innings batsmen ever, intimidated India as South Africa reached 63 in 12 overs. On a warm and sunny day, the pitch was at its best for batting. India were being bullied, and on came Sreesanth, who seemed to have sledged the hell out of Smith before drawing him into an ill-advised pull. That was not all, though: Sreesanth added the wickets of Jacques Kallis with one that reared towards his head from just short of a length, and Hashim Amla. India won comfortably in the end thanks to Zaheer Khan's work on the tail, but it hadn't looked so until Sreesanth intervened.
Another Jamaican beauty of a Test pitch, and India had set West Indies 326 thanks to a second-innings hundred by Dravid. The West Indies openers, though, came out flashing, and India were on the back foot in no time. At 58 for 0 after 10 overs, they had India rattled, but Praveen had conceded only 13 of those in five overs. He was persisted with, and in his sixth over he began striking. He took out Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and conceded only 42 in his 16 overs to set up the series lead, which India held on to in the end.
On paper these are figures in a facile win against a Packer-depleted Australian side on a pitch seemingly tailor-made for Indian spinners. However, India had already fallen behind by two Tests in the series, so imagine the embarrassment had they lost another. Chandra took six in the first innings, too, to give India a 43-run lead, which they built merrily on with Jeff Thomson injured. Having set Australia 387 to win, Chandra and Bedi didn't give Australia a whiff. Bedi took four wickets, and Chandra took out the rest in 20 eight-ball overs.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo