Veteran pacer Zaheer Khan's sensational three-wicket burst helped India 'A' crush West Indies 'A' by an innings and 54 runs in the third and final unofficial Test to level the three-match series, in Hubli, on Saturday.
The left-arm seamer claimed four for 59 as West Indies 'A' conceded the match at 242 for nine in their second innings in the 13th over after lunch on the final day. Wicetkeeper Jahmar Hamilton was unable to bat because of an injury.
The highlight of India's performance was skipper Cheteshwar Pujara's magnificent 306 not out and Gautam Gambhir's 123 which enabled the hosts post a mammoth 564 for nine declared in their first innings, and take a mammoth 296-run lead. Zaheer then brought his experience into play with a splendid spell to destroy the visitors and make a strong case for his comeback into the Indian team.
Put into bat, West Indies were bowled out for 268 all out in their first innings.
Zaheer, who finished the match with a haul of five wickets for 92 runs, ran into the lower-order batsmen after lunch in his fourth spell of the innings, claiming three wickets in the space of eight deliveries.
The 35-year-old started the spell by first cleaning up a dogged Narasingh Deonaraine with a beatiful ball which broke through the defences of the Guyanese after he had made a fighting 99 runs, which included 13 hits to the fence.
Zaheer ran in hard and castled the wickets of Ashley Nurse (0) and Miguel Cummins in his 17th over.
India 'A' had lost the first match at Mysore by 162 runs while the second match at Shimoga had ended in a draw.
None of the West Indies 'A' batsmen were able to thwart the Indian bowlers, except the indomitable Deonaraine who put up stiff resistance with a fighting knock.
Deonaraine put up a 82-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Assad Fudadin (49) to prevent India 'A' from wrapping up the match before lunch.
Resuming at an overnight score of 116 for three, West Indies lost two quick wickets as all-rounder Abhishek Nayar produced the much-required breakthrough by sending back the dogged Fudadin for 49.
Fudadin had five hits to the fence in 101 balls.
The Mumbai all-rounder did not wait long as he celebrated his second wicket by cleaning up Jonathan Carter for 12 off 17 balls, reducing the visitors to 199 for five.
The other wicket takers for India 'A' were Ishwar Pandey, Dhawal Kulkarni and Bharghav Bhatt, who all claimed one wicket each.
West Indies 'A' (1st innings): 268 (L Johnson 81, A Nayar 4-61, D Kulkarni 3-60).
India 'A' (1st innings): 564-9 declared (C Pujara 306 not out, G Gambhir 123, A Nurse 3-106).
West Indies 'A' (2nd innings) Overnight score 116-3:
Kraigg Brathwaite lbw b Pandey 21
Kieron Powell lbw b Khan 6
Leon Johnson b Kulkarni 1
N Deonarine b Khan 99
A Fudadin c Kaul b Nayar 49
J Carter b Nayar 12
N Miller c Dogra b Bhatt 17
A Nurse b Khan 0
D Johnson not out 0
M Cummins b Khan 44
J Hamilton absent hurt
Extras: (B-16, LB-9, NB-7, W-1) 33
Total: (all out in 73.5 overs) 242
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-18, 3-57, 4-139, 5-165, 6-234, 7-234, 8-234, 9-242.
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 16.3-3-59-4, Dhawal Kulkarni 17-4-38-1, Abhishek Nayar 16-2-45-2, Ishwar Pandey 11-3-38-1, Virendra Sehwag 9-1-28-0, Bhargav Bhatt 4-2-9-1.
Image: Zaheer Khan
Photograph: Pal Pillai/Getty Images