The crowd at the Wankhede could not witness Sachin score his historic hundredth international century but what they got to witness was one of the best days of Test cricket of all time. Neither India nor West Indies won or lost and the match, as anticipated, ended in a draw – but not the kind of draw one had anticipated, as the match boiled down to the last two balls of the match with India requiring 2 runs to win with two wickets in hand.
Ashwin ensured safety first as he attempted no tricks of the penultimate ball as the equation came down to two required of the last ball. As Fidel Edwards dug in a short ball, Ashwin cross batted it to long-on and ran the first run hard. Even as Varun Aaron pushed him for the second, there was an inexplicable pause as the throw was drilled into the keeper’s hands as Ashwin was left short of his crease, thus ensuring that the match was drawn with the scores level for only the second ever time in Test cricket’s 134 year history.
A Test that was meant to be forgotten at the end of Day 4 suddenly sprung to life on the fifth morning as the West Indian batsmen fell like a pack of cards. Brathwaite was the first to go when he cut Ojha straight to point. But the moment of alarm began only when Ojha got rid of Bravo and Samuels in the same over to reduce West Indies to 112/5. The dry dead pitch had woken up as the ball began to spit and bounce and turn! Ashwin got into the act as he castled Baugh and then it was only a matter of time before the spin duo cleaned up the tail. 81/2 in the morning had become 134 all out as India were left with 243 to chase in 64 overs.
Having already won the series, there was no way the Indian batsmen were not going to go for the chase. Sehwag was going to be the key and the new ODI skipper started briskly as he slowly accelerated the pace in the company of Dravid after Gambhir had fallen early. Then there was a moment of madness!
Sehwag, tried to reverse paddle Bishoo to third man, but somehow managed to find the outer edge to give Sammy the easiest of catches at fine leg. Samuels then got rid of Tendulkar and Dravid in quick succession as silence descended upon the Wankhede. Laxman, the fourth innings specialist, and the young Kohli got on to doing the repair job with a 52 run partnership before a short ball stopped on Laxman as he mistimed a pull straight to mid-on. Dhoni hung on a while for his 13 as the required run rate was catching up as India needed 42 runs of the last ten overs.
Kohli brought up his second half century of the game as the victory as India trotted towards victory. With 19 to get, Kohli then top edged a wide ball from Bishoo to give Sammy another simple catch and the spotlight turned to Ashwin. The lad from Chennai and Ishant Sharma rotated the strike with nudges and pushes as India now only needed a boundary with eight balls to spare.
And then it was the time for the final twist!
Ravi Rampaul sent Ishant’s timber cartwheeling and Aaron’s single of the last ball meant he would retain strike for the last over. Edwards came hurtling in as Aaron struggled to find bat on ball for three deliveries. A misfield of the fourth allowed the batsmen to scamper for a single as the equation turned to two of two. The rest, as they say, is history!
Ashwin was adjudged the Man of the Match for his all round performance and the Man of the Series for his 22 wickets in the series but he definitely was not the most popular guy as the moment’s pause and hesitation allowed Darren Sammy to leave the field as the smiling captain although the scorecard read “Match Drawn.”