2nd Test

India v West Indies in India, 2011-12

At Kolkata, November 14-17, 2011. India won by an innings and 15 runs. Toss: India.


VVS Laxman celebrates his century, India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 2nd day, November 15, 2011
VVS Laxman's unbeaten 176 in the first innings won him the Man-of-the-Match award © AFP
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Tour and tournament reports : India v West Indies in India, 2011-12
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of India
Teams: India | West Indies

This was an old-style Indian thrashing, reminiscent of matches in the 1990s when a combination of imposing batsmanship and wily spin would drain the spirit from touring sides. With their limited bowling resources, and on an utterly placid pitch, West Indies could have done without losing the toss. Once they did, and India batted on past tea on the second day, the game was as good as over.

Sehwag and Tendulkar failed to build on sprightly starts, but Gambhir hit 65 to set an early agenda. Once again, though, the key man was Dravid: assured in defence and clinical when it came to finding the gaps - even with Sammy employing largely defensive fields - he produced another masterclass for his 36th Test century, his fifth of 2011 and his fourth at Indian cricket's most famous venue.

West Indies at least possessed raw pace in the form of Roach and Fidel Edwards, but any waywardness was ruthlessly punished on a surface that gave them no margin for error. Bishoo toiled away in the harsh sun but, by stumps, he too was looking listless and bereft of inspiration. The wicket of Dravid just before the close - a notable first Test wicket for Brathwaite's part-time off-spin - gave West Indies a lift, as did another failure for Yuvraj Singh next morning. But hopes of a quick wrap-up were summarily dismissed by Dhoni's dashing strokeplay. In three hours he and Laxman put on 224, of which Dhoni's contribution was 144. It was the ultimate contrast in styles: Laxman all eased drives, tucks and nudges, Dhoni relying on immense power to propel the ball to (and over) the ropes. When he edged behind in pursuit of more quick runs, he had faced only 175 balls and walloped five sixes, as well as ten fours.

Laxman's progress was far from sedate, though it appeared tortoise-like next to his captain's. But by the time the declaration came, at 631 for seven, he could savour a 17th Test century - the fifth at the ground where he played his most famous innings, 281 against Australia in 2000-01. It also meant West Indies would have to bat for around two days to have any chance of saving the game.

Their first effort didn't even make it past lunch on the third day. Spin played its part, with Ojha and Ashwin giving away next to nothing, but the game-changer was Yadav, who found the rhythm that had rarely been in evidence during his nervy Delhi debut. He was relentlessly quick and attacked the stumps: the wickets of Bravo and Samuels - who both had their off stumps removed - were pivotal to India's dominance that morning. The innings lasted just 48 overs and, with a lead of 478, Dhoni understandably felt far enough in front to buck the modern-day trend, and imposed the follow-on. West Indies had only once conceded a bigger first-innings lead - 563 at Kingston in 1929-30 when, in a timeless Test, the England captain Freddie Calthorpe batted again and ultimately set a victory target of 836.

With the series almost certainly gone and only pride to play for, West Indies knuckled down and batted as they should have the first time. Barath showed why many rate him so highly with a cultured half-century, and there was a solid 60 from the muscular Kirk Edwards. But the undoubted star of the show was Darren Bravo, the half-brother of Dwayne, and also a cousin of Brian Lara. The comparisons with Lara had been frequent, and Bravo chose the big stage of Eden Gardens to highlight just why, with an innings that married wondrous timing, finesse and patience to tremendous concentration and resolve. The similarities were statistical, too: after this match, his 12th, Bravo had 941 runs at 47.05, identical figures to Lara's after a dozen Tests.

Chanderpaul chipped in with a steady 47, while Samuels batted as he once had in Australia more than a decade earlier, for a gorgeous 84. At 401 for four it looked certain India would have to bat again. But the bowlers had kept at it in the face of some superb batting, and claimed their rewards late on the fourth afternoon, when Bravo's eventual dismissal - edging Ojha to slip after 321 minutes - triggered a collapse. The loss of Samuels soon afterwards sealed West Indies' fate. Sammy slammed a defiant 32, but Yadav's pace and some tidy work from the spinners ensured there would be no fifth day. India's innings victory - only their second over West Indies, following Mumbai in 2002-03 - meant they had won another home series, leaving the tourists to reflect on another exceptionally costly session of careless batting.

Man of the Match: V. V. S. Laxman.

© John Wisden & Co.
 
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