Mohammed Shami was the wrecker-in-chief as India scored a resounding innings and 51-run victory over the West Indies in the first Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday.
Victory, sealed with well over six sessions left, gave India its fifth Test win in a row, after the 4-0 whitewash of Australia earlier in the year.
Needing 220 to make India bat again, the West Indies could muster only 168 in their second innings.
Debutant pacer Shami utilized the swing available to optimum effect to pick five wickets for 47 runs, to go with his four-wicket haul in the first innings.
The 23-year-old’s match figures (nine for 118) are the second-best effort by an Indian debutant, after Narendra Hirwani’s 16 for 136 in Chennai (1988), also against the West Indies.
Earlier, a brilliant 177 by debutant Rohit Sharma and his record partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin (124) helped India tighten their stranglehold on the Test.
Rohit and Ashwin added 280 runs for the seventh wicket and played a crucial part in helping the home team extend their lead to 219.
Morning session: (99 runs, 27.4 overs, four wickets)
The day started with completion of a 200-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Rohit Sharma and Ashwin, a boundary by the latter in the day’s second over off Tino Best doing the trick. Two overs later, Ashwin completed his second Test hundred with a single off the same bowler.
Coincidentally the 27-year-old’s debut ton also came against the West Indies, an unbeaten 103 at the Wankhede stadium, in Mumbai two years back.
Sheldon Cottrell replaced an expensive and ineffective Best, and a single in his first over helped Rohit get to 150, the second Indian batsman to do so after Shikhar Dhawan (187) against Australia, in March this year.
If the West Indies bowling was pedestrian for much of the morning session, Darren Sammy’s field placements left a lot to be desired as well. However, the visitors finally got the breakthrough they so desperately sought following a bowling change.
Veerasaamy Permaul came in to bowl for the first time in the 22nd over of the day and struck with his first delivery, trapping Rohit plumb in front.
Rohit's 301-ball innings was inclusive of 23 hits to the fence and one over it. It was Permaul’s first Test wicket and an important one at that.
Ashwin didn’t survive long either, Shillingford finally breaching his defence. The 27-year-old’s 210-ball knock was inclusive of 11 boundaries.
It was Shillingford's fifth wicket of the innings, his fifth career five-wicket haul, and fourth this year. His sixth came shortly after, when he had Bhuvneshwar Kumar (12) caught by Chris Gayle at first slip.
And when Perumal had Mohammad Shami (1) stumped it was all over for India.
Post-lunch session: (112 runs, 33 overs, three wickets)
Chris Gayle (33) started the West Indies second innings with a flurry of boundaries, five off Shami and a couple off Kumar.
But he got carried away in the process, and was out to a rash shot, Kumar having him caught by Virat Kohli at square leg.
It was the second time in the match that Kumar accounted for the veteran West Indies opener.
On the other hand, it took 31 balls for Gayle's opening partner, Kieran Powell (36), to open his account. However, he did enjoy some fortune (when on seven) as Kumar put him down at long leg, Ojha being the unlucky bowler.
Powell, though, settled down well, and along with Bravo began rebuilding the West Indies innings. The duo added 68 runs for the second wicket before Ashwin had Powell out leg before to a ball that kept dangerously low.
Marlon Samuels (4) did not survive long either, Shami having him out leg before. The replays showed the ball would have missed the leg. But umpire Nigel Llong thought otherwise.
Post-tea session: (56 runs, 11.1 overs, seven wickets)
The final session began in the worst possible manner for the visitors, the home team making a breakthrough as early as the second over.
Ashwin had Bravo caught by Rohit at point.
Denesh Ramdin (1) did not trouble the scorers too, Shami having him caught by Vijay at short leg.
The debutant gots the ball to reverse again and got two quick wickets in the bargain. Both Darren Sammy (8) and Shane Shillingford (0) were cleaned up in the space of four balls.
Dhoni ran out Veeraswamy Perumal (0) the next ball.
That over, the 49th of the innings, ensured three wickets and ended any hopes of a West Indies revival.
Rather, it was a matter of survival, of taking the game into a fourth day.
However Shivanarine Chanderpaul (31 not out), the lone batsman capable of ensuring the same, rather than facing most of the deliveries, was guilty of giving away the strike frequently to his not-so-experienced partner.
Tino Best (3) hit an Ashwin delivery straight to Pragyan Ojha at deep mid-wicket. And when Shami came back to rattle Sheldon Cottrell’s (5) stumps it was all over for the West Indies.
Image: Mohammed Shami celebrates