Mumbai, Nov 26: 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 cricket Test here today.
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 be content with a 2-0 series triumph.
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 yesterday, 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.
After Kohli's departure, it was left to the tailenders to carry India home and all four results appeared to be possible in the tense dying moments of the thriller.
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 yesterday, 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.
The first three wickets to fall this morning—those of overnight unbeaten batsmen Brathwaite (35) and Bravo (48) and Samuels for a duck—were grabbed by Ojha who completed 50 wickets in his 14th Test.
Brathwaite, who was unbeaten on 34 in a team total of 81 for two last evening, was the first batsman to go this morning when he square cut Ojha straight to Tendulkar at point after the visitors had added 10 runs.