5th Test: West Indies v India at Jamaica, 18-22 May 2002
Anand Vasu

West Indies 2nd innings: End of innings,
India 2nd innings: Lunch - Day 4, Tea - Day 4, Stumps - Day 4,
Live Reports from previous days

A complete reversal of fortunes right after tea saw West Indies regain their stranglehold on this game while India’s hopes were summarily dismissed. Pedro Collins clean bowled Tendulkar, Sanford scalped Ganguly and India were reduced to 176/5. By the end of the day India were on the verge of defeat at 237/7.

Collins is enjoying an unusual degree of success in this innings. Keeping the ball right up at a driving length and allowing to swing, or seam off the wicket, Collins reaped rich rewards. Going around the wicket to the right handers, Collins created a nagging angle. Coming in with the arm an often straightening after pitching, the ball evaded the middle of the bat.

Once such delivery kept a shade low and evaded the bat altogether. Not quite in position, neither fully back nor forward, Tendulkar got himself into a bit of a tangle as the ball slipped through before he could bring his bat down. Tendulkar had played brilliantly, dominating the bowling, but as it is with this great game, it took just one ball to undo the hard work. Tendulkar’s 86 was studded with 13 boundaries.

The wicket of Tendulkar signaled the beginning of the end for India. You could just about see it in Ganguly’s eyes as he looked down and shook his head in dismay. He certainly did not last long enough to take the fight to the opposition. Playing a pull to a Sanford delivery that hurried onto him, Ganguly (28) only managed to find Ramnaresh Sarwan at square leg.

Laxman was the next casualty. After playing some trademark drives that reached the fence with ease, the Hyderabadi stylist miscued a pull shot off the bowling of Sanford. The ball bobbed up towards square leg and Merv Dillon back-peddled quickly, kept his eyes on the ball and took a good catch. Laxman’s dismissal after he made 23 had opened up the Indian tail to the Windies.

Harbhajan Singh batted steadily for a 17 but could not resist having a go at the gentle offspin of Chris Gayle and only managed to find Cuffy at mid on.

Ajay Ratra batting on 16 and Zaheer Khan on 4 were at the crease when bad light stopped play. India are 237/7 and the final day’s play is but a formality. Unless of course it rains and rains and rains.

The hopes of a nation ride on Sachin Tendulkar. While fans have ample respect for Dravid and Ganguly, the rush of blood and the irrational belief that no task is too difficult is inspired by Tendulkar alone. Unbeaten on a magnificent 82, Tendulkar took India 166/3 at tea on the fourth day.

At lunch India were a less than convincing 57/2. Dravid was able to add just 4 runs to his lunch score and 20 to the Indian total before he departed in the second session.

Adam Sanford, bowling pretty much all over the place was the man responsible for Dravid’s wicket. Amidst the half-volleys outside the off stump and the leg-side half-trackers Sanford produced one perfectly pitched delivery. Just short of a good length and on the stumps, with the ball coming in a touch and keeping low, Dravid (30) could not bring the bat down before the ball crashed into the pads. Plumb in front and India were 77/3.

Things could have gone either way at that stage. Ganguly was new to the wicket and Tendulkar was not yet at the top of his game.

They did, however go only one way – India’s. Getting into a rhythm we have seen little of this series, Tendulkar unleashed an array of powerful strokes that caused bowlers’ shoulders to droop. Precision square cuts piercing the gaps perfectly, vicious pulls scorching the turf and of course the tidy straight drives that give fielders no chance were all on display.

The result was a confident Tendulkar reaching 82, in the course of which he became just the second Indian (after Sunil Gavaskar) to reach 8000 Test runs. He is the tenth batsman in the history of the game to do so.

In the meantime Ganguly was content rotating the strike and reaching 23 in sedate fashion.

Chasing 408 is the kind of thing every young cricketer dreams about. Dreams however, by their very nature, suggest the extraordinary rather than the routine. In practice, quick wickets are more likely. India, going in to lunch at 57/2 have made a shaky start.

Wasim Jaffer was the first to go, thanks to a piece of superb fielding by Wavell Hinds. After settling down reasonably well to take India to 19 for no loss, Jaffer flicked hard at Pedro Collins. The ball was pitched on middle and leg stump and cramped the batsman for room. Nevertheless, Jaffer made good contact, sending the ball straight at forward short leg. Hinds, who has excelled in that position showed superb reflexes, hanging on to the sharp chance.

Collins had struck in his very first over, pegging India back to 19/1.

In his very next over, Colins struck again. Playing across the line to a full delivery, Das was struck on the pad. A loud shout for lbw resulted and umpire Tiffin raised the dreaded finger. Television replays however, suggested that the ball pitched outside the leg stump. Das (10) will consider himself unlucky.

The came a period of play that raised Indian spirits. Rahul Dravid, coming out to the middle with little on the board began positively. Taking Collins for three boundaries one over, Dravid (26 not out) began to defy the West Indian bowlers.

Sachin Tendulkar, keen to do well in a big run chase began tentatively, working his way to 7 when lunch was taken.

After losing three wickets on the final day for 32 runs, West Indies were all out for 197, giving them a commanding lead of 407. India are now left with almost two days to survive, or chase an extremely unlikely 408 for victory.

The series hung in the balance before the start of the fifth Test. By the morning of the fourth day however, things swung the way of the West Indies. One of the key members who made that happen was Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Top scoring with 59, the consistent Guyana left-hander took his series tally to 562 runs at an average of over 140.

When he patted a slower ball from Zaheer Khan back to be caught and bowled, he was disappointed. But really, there was no need for that. He had done his bit.

Pedro Collins, who batted so doggedly alongside Chanderpaul on the third day, swatted the ball around with gay abandon for 24 before he was finally bowled by Harbhajan Singh. The offie also scalped the wicket of Adam Sanford a few overs earlier. With 3/42 in the second innings Harbhajan Singh took his match tally to 8 wickets.

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Date-stamped : 22 May2002 - 18:55