India, WI match ends in a sensational draw
Spinners Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin plotted a dramatic West Indies batting collapse as India very nearly pulled off a sensational win before the visitors pegged them back to a nerve-wracking last-ball draw in the third and final Test in Mumbai on Saturday.
After the hosts conceded a 108-run first innings lead, Ojha (6/47) and Ashwin (4/34) ripped through the batting order to bundle out West Indies for a paltry 134 in the second innings, leaving the hosts a target of 243 off 64 overs on a tricky fifth-day track.
The Indians relied on a breezy start from Virender Sehwag (60 off 65 balls) but faced a few anxious moments in the dying moments before being dramatically stopped at 242 for nine in the last over and had to be content with a 2-0 series triumph.
Image: Indian team pose for photographers with the winners trophy
India tailenders lacked finishing power
It was a combination of some atrocious batting by the inexperienced West Indies batsmen and some superb bowling by the Indian spinners that brought the drab Test, which seemed headed for a tame draw till Friday, to life.
Resuming at the overnight score of 81 for two, the visitors completely lost the plot on a Wankhede track which gave some assistance to the spinners as they lost eight wickets for a mere 53 runs in the action-packed pre-lunch session.
The Indian tailenders lacked the finishing firepower to overhaul the target in the thrilling chase with young Virat Kohli (63) playing a stellar role. Rahul Dravid (33) and VVS Laxman (31) were the other notable scorers.
The Indians needed three runs in Fidel Edwards last over but Varun Aaron consumed three balls without scoring a run. In the last ball, the hosts needed two runs and Ashwin could manage just a single before being run out.
Image: Ishant Sharma is clean bowled by Ravi Pampaul
17 wickets fell in the day
It turned out to be an extraordinary Test match, which saw as many as 17 wickets fall on the last day in sharp contrast to the first four days when the batsmen ruled the roost.
West Indies had themselves to blame for the jolt as their abysmal batting in the second innings swung the game in India's favour.
When play commenced in the morning, the clutter of so many wickets was little expected on a Wankhede Stadium track on which West Indies batted first to rattle up 590 and India replied with 482.
Ojha, who had sent back Adrian Barath and Kirk Edwards, bagged four more wickets to complete his second five-wicket haul in an innings in the series as well as his career before Ashwin also got into the wicket-grabbing act.
Opener Kraigg Brathwaite was the first to go in morning but it was the loss of first innings centurion Darren Bravo, caught and bowled by Ojha that triggered a collapse during which West Indies lost seven wickets in 10.3 overs.
From 112 for four when Bravo fell, the tourists collapsed like a pack of cards with the batsmen following one another in a procession as Ojha and Ashwin spun a web around them, the former taking two wickets in four balls in one over and the latter terminating the innings by grabbing two wickets off the first two balls of his ninth over of the morning.
Image: Pragyan Ohja celebrates after picking up a wicket
Sehwag raced away to 61
In the run chase, Gambhir was the first to go in the afternoon session when he played a poor shot for the second innings running, driving at Fidel Edwards well away from his body and slicing the ball to gully where West Indies captain Darren Sammy made no mistake.
Sehwag, dropped thrice by the butter-fingered rival team fielders -- on six (caught and bowled chance by Ravi Rampaul), 13 (Devendra Bishoo) and 27 (Sammy), played in his inimitable forthright manner to race to his 30th Test half century in 61 balls and 78 minutes with seven fours.
Tendulkar, who missed his 100th international ton by a mere six runs in the first innings, fell cheaply in the second knock when his flick was caught brilliantly by a diving Kirk Edwards.
Four overs later Dravid too departed, his flicked shot well taken by a leaping substitute fielder Denesh Ramdin well over his head and the run-chase was as good as over at 113 for 4, with the hosts needing 130 runs in 40 overs on a track offering sharp turn and bounce to the slow bowlers.
Image: Virender Sehwag reacts after being dismissed by Devendra Bishoo
Crucial innings from Kohli
West Indies grabbed four wickets in the second session to reduce the hosts to 113 for four before India progressed to 148 for 4 with VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli at the crease to launch the final assault in the final session of the match.
Laxman fell for 31 after putting on 52 runs for the fifth wicket with Kohli and then India lost skipper MS Dhoni (13) to be 189 for six.
With the match balanced on a knife's edge Virat Kohli and man-of-the match Ashwin (14) put on a valuable 45 runs to bring India on the doorstep of a fabulous victory.
Kohli departed, cutting leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo to rival skipper Darren Sammy at backward point, when India needed 19 to win from 29 balls.However, egged on by a big crowd, Ashwin and tail-ender Ishant Sharma (10) brought the home side to within four runs of victory.
In yet another dramatic turn, Sharma's off stump was sent cart-wheeling by Ravi Rampaul who bowled his heart out for figures of 3 for 56 to peg back India again.
Image: Virat Kohli pulls the ball during his knock against West Indies
West Indies hold onto a draw
Ashwin blocked the second-last ball of the match to ensure India would not lose and then drove the last ball behind the bowler to take one run before being run out while attempting the second to level the scores and make it a draw.
Image: Darren Sammy celebrates after dismissing R Ashwin