Rahul Dravid followed his first-innings 81 with a superb 68 in the second, and his batting was the difference between the two sides
What appeared to be a leisurely stroll to victory turned into more of a roller-coaster ride, but it all ended well for India, with Anil Kumble's six-wicket haul sealing India's second series victory in the Caribbean, 35 long years after Ajit Wadekar and his men had seen off the challenge posed by Sir Garfield Sobers and friends. For West Indies, Ramnaresh Sarwan led the resistance with 51, and Denesh Ramdin chanced his arm for an unbeaten 62 at the end to send a few jitters down Indian spines, but ultimately, a target of 269 was a few bridges too far once Brian Lara departed for just 11.
It was expected that Kumble would come to the fore on a pitch that was taking turn, but just as valuable was the part played by Sreesanth, who dismissed both openers and then put a full stop to a dangerous 70-run partnership between Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo. Harbhajan Singh couldn't replicate his first-innings heroics, and suffered the anguish of seeing Rahul Dravid drop Ramdin at slip, but every bowler played his part. Munaf Patel had just one entry in the wickets column, but it happened to be the most precious, Lara trapped plumb in front after misjudging the length.
Having lost Chris Gayle to the second ball of the innings, West Indies had gone to lunch without sustaining further punishment, but the complexion of the match changed utterly in half a dozen overs after the interval. First, Sreesanth produced a sensational outswinging yorker to send Daren Ganga packing and then Patel ensured that Lara wouldn't be around to shepherd the chase.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sarwan, who played some pleasing drives off the slow bowlers, added 27, but Chanderpaul's departure in eventful circumstances after a string of maiden overs pushed the side one step closer to the abyss. Bravo came out swinging, and with Sarwan also in positive mood, an incident-packed final session beckoned.
Both Sarwan and Bravo took on Harbhajan and Kumble, stepping out to drive and lofting over midwicket when the opportunity presented itself. Sarwan eased to 50 with two stylish fours off Sreesanth, but the bowler took revenge in the best possible fashion, with a peach of a delivery that moved away a touch. And when Bravo's energetic cameo ended with an ungainly hoick, it became a matter of when rather than if India would win.
Marlon Samuels got a rough decision, but Jerome Taylor followed up match figures of 9 for 95 with a breezy innings that reduced the target to two figures. And after he left, Pedro Collins - another not renowned for his willow skills - stuck around as Ramdin started to lash out. Harbhajan's offbreaks were repeatedly heaved with the turn, and there was one stunning straight six off Kumble, but with the clock ticking down and the final over in progress, Kumble steeled himself for one final push. Collins perished to his version of the sweep, while Collymore's cut inflicted pain only on the locals watching. With more than two days remaining, it was all over.
Sreesanth's second-innings strikes were cruical in piling the pressure on West Indies
Collymore had earlier played his part as the Indian innings was wrapped up half an hour before lunch. Having waited a while for the breakthrough, he finally induced the edge from Kumble, and it was apparent that India needed to go for as many runs as they could before the innings folded.
Dravid cut Collins for four, and then watched as Harbhajan smacked a Collymore delivery to long-off for four more. A fortuitous edge over the slips followed, but Collymore was not to be denied. The wicket, when it came, was the big one, Dravid having no answer to the low bounce.
Sreesanth came in and made his intentions clear, with a glide down to third man and a huge six over midwicket off Taylor. But once that brief flourish ended, it was left to the West Indian openers to walk out and establish a platform for the likes of Lara. They couldn't, and despite the heart shown by Sarwan and the lower order, India were left to celebrate a famous victory.
Their previous Caribbean triumphs had all come at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad, on a pitch similar to those back home, and in front of crowds that rarely treated them like an away side. This success, at the citadel that is Sabina Park - West Indies had won 21 of 41 previous Tests here - will thus be ineffably special, particularly for Dravid who seemed to revel in the role of the helmsman with his two stirring half-centuries.
Anil Kumble c Bravo b Collymore 10 (141 for 7)
Outside off stump, edged, caught at second slip
Rahul Dravid b Collymore 68 (154 for 8)
Kept low, too late in bringing the bat down
S Sreesanth c Lara b Taylor 16 (171 for 9)
Beaten by a shorter one after coming down the pitch, gloved to second slip
Harbhajan Singh c Lara b Collymore 9 (171 all out)
Had a poke with no footwork, edge taken low to the left of first slip
Chris Gayle c Laxman b Sreesanth 0 (0 for 1)
Good bounce, edged through to second slip
Daren Ganga b Sreesanth 16 (27 for 2)
Beaten by pace and swing, off stump knocked out
Brian Lara lbw Patel 11 (29 for 3)
Pitched in line, caught on the back foot while shuffling across
Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw Kumble 13 (56 for 4)
Struck on the pad by a flighted delivery that turned little. Appeals
for lbw, a catch at slip and a run out
Ramnaresh Sarwan c Dravid b Sreesanth 51 (126 for 5)
Taken low to the left of first slip after slight away movement induced the edge
Dwayne Bravo b Kumble 33 (128 for 6)
Went for the big smear, missed by a long way
Marlon Samuels lbw Kumble 5 (144 for 7)
Quicker one that might have been drifting down the leg side
Jerome Taylor lbw Kumble 20 (180 for 8)
Another faster delivery, trapped plumb in front
Pedro Collins lbw Kumble 3 (219 for 9)
Went for the sweep, struck in line
Corey Collymore c Dhoni b Kumble 0 (219 all out)
Went for the cut, edged behind
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo