By Sirshendu Panth
Kolkata: Pacer Mohammad Shami gave an awesome exhibition of reverse swing to cap a dream debut with five second innings wickets as India inflicted an innings defeat on a hapless West Indies inside three days in the first cricket Test here to mark a fabulous start to the Sachin Tendulkar farewell series here Friday.
Shami followed up his 4/71 performance in the first innings with a 5/47 show in the second to claim an enviable match haul of 9/118 — the best ever by an Indian pacer on debut.
Shami’s performance propelled India to an innings and 51-run victory in the first Test at the iconic Eden Gardens. Offie Ravichandran Ashwin followed up his exploits with the bat (124) with admirable figures of 3/46.
Needing 219 runs to escape the ignominy of an innings upset, the West Indies collapsed like a pack of cards in the final session — 98 minutes into the post tea session — to be bundled out for 168. Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul (31 not out; 101 b, 2×4) put up a gritty resistance, but in the end ran out of partners.
In the morning, Ashwin struck his second Test ton (124) and extended his seventh wicket stand with Rohit Sharma (177) to a staggering 280 to enable the hosts finish at a mammoth 453. The visitors had notched up 234 in their first innings.
Beginning their second knock in the post-lunch session, the West Indies raised the promise of a fightback by reaching 101/1, courtesy a 68-run second wicket stand between Darren Bravo (37; 78 b, 4X4) and Kieran Powell (36; 83 b, 5×4), but Ashwin began the Caribbean demolition by foxing Powell with a flighted delivery that hit the batsman on the pad plumb in front of the stumps.
Shami – after a listless effort in his first spell – returned with a vengeance close to tea, and saw the back of Marlon Samuels (4) with one that reversed and got him leg before.
In the second over after tea, Bravo tried to cut Ashwin, who had pitched outside the off stump, and the ball dipped into the hands of a diving Rohit Sharma at point. The West Indies were then 120/4.
Shami then jagged one back after pitching on a length just outside the off stump, inducing an inside edge from Windies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin (1), which was lapped up by his Indian counterpart.
With half the side gone, Chanderpaul (23) and skipper Darren Sammy (8) tried to put up resistance briefly, but they crumbled in Shami’s 11th over – the 49th of the innings.
The Bengal pacer again pitched on a length outside the off stump, and got the ball to reverse,uprooting Sammy’s middle stump.
Two deliveries later, Shane Shillingfored got a similar ball which unsettled the off stump by breaking through the gate.
There was a further tragedy for the Caribbeans after the next delivery. Shami again extracted reverse swing, and Veerasammy Permaul (0) was struck on the pads. As the Indian fielders appealed, Permaul took a few steps out of the crease, but the alert Dhoni was quick to throw down the stumps to get a run out decision.
The writing on the wall was more than clear, and the West Indies were reeling at 152/8. The formalities were soon completed with Ashwin claiming Tino Best (3) and Shami castling Sheldon Cottrel (5).
Earlier, Resuming at 354/6 overnight, Ashwin and Rohit batted fluently to notch up a stand of 280 – an Indian highest for the seventh wicket – which catapulted the hosts to a strong position.
Ashwin, who had taken the partnership to 200 in the morning’s second over with a streaky boundary off Best, brought up his delightful 100 in the fourth over by pushing the same bowler through the sweeper cover.
Reaching the three-figure mark, a visibly ecstatic Ashwin punched the air as Tendulkar clapped in appreciation in the dressing room balcony. The landmark was reached off 159 balls.
All the four wickets in the morning session were equally shared by the visiting spinners on a track which played slow but gave turn. Shillingford (6/167) claimed his fifth five-wicket haul in 11 Tests. Left armer Veerasammy Permaul (2/67) was the other successful bowler.
Rohit finally departed as he deliberately padded an offering from Permaul which pitched around the off stump and turned away.
Aswhin was claimed by Shillingford with a flighted delivery which beat the batsman and dislodged the middle stump.