A stubborn 37-over long partnership for the 9th wicket between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Fidel Edwards defied India’s chances of forcing a victory in the Third and Final Test at Dominica. The Chanderpaul-Edwards stand helped West Indies set a target of 180 in 47 overs which was just too much for India on a wicket that was difficult for free strokeplay. India settled for a draw though it showed some intentions of going for it before the anti-climax.
Tale of the Morning Session :
There was no worries about the weather going into the Final Day’s play with West Indies facing defeat with just a lead of 81 runs with four wickets in hand. The overnight pair of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Sammy stretched their partnership to atleast 45 minutes to frustrate India. The much needed first breakthrough came when Harbhajan Singh got his off break to turn in and jump to force a bit of glove from Sammy (17 from 37 balls) in a defensive prod which was caught at shortleg in the 93rd over. Sammy added a useful 32 runs for the 7th wicket with Chanderpaul which consumed around 10 overs.
India got their next wicket just three balls later in the same over when Ravi Rampaul (1 from 2 balls) was run out through a direct hit from Ishat Sharma fielding at backward point. It was a dreadful call from Chanderpaul after cutting Harbhajan straight to point and taking off for a non-existent run. India was all set to wrap up the hosts who had slipped to 256 for 8. However, they found it too difficult to break the resistance from Fidel Edwards whenever he was on strike. Chanderpaul who shielded him for sometime finally got to his 23rd Test hundred. His partnership with Edwards ate the rest of the morning session to take West Indies to 294 for 8 in 114 overs with the lead at 151 runs.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
There was more frustation for India as Chanderpaul and Edwards were in no mood to end their batting stints. Two of India’s bowlers – Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar had virtually given up their interests in any bowling to the pair. Dhoni was left to try out Suresh Raina ahead of an extremely ineffective Harbhajan Singh who often bowled harmless deliveries outside leg to Edwards. After about an hour after Lunch, the stubborn 9th wicket stand was broken when Fidel Edwards getting a touch bored decided to chance his arms against Suresh Raina for a big hit but only to hole out to Praveen Kumar at deep mid off. So releived was Praveen Kumar after taking the catch that he smashed the ball on the ground. Fidel Edwards lasted 106 balls to score 30, his stand with Chanderpaul was worth 65 runs in 37 overs.
Last man Devendra Bishoo got out surviving only 8 balls when he edged a square drive off Raina to Dravid who took a sharp catch in the slips. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was left stranded on 116* with the most important part being that he consumed as many as 343 balls while striking only 5 fours. West Indies finished at 322 after batting for 131.3 overs.
India got around 30 minutes to handle before Tea. It was a bad start chasing 180 from 47 overs as Abhinav Mukund got out in the very first ball of the innings for a duck. Fidel Edwards was the bowler who produced a similar delivery which got the wicket of Suresh Raina in the first innings. It was a short of length delivery that swung back late after pitching around middle to strike the pad of Mukund who had his feet in the air while trying to play a flick. It was a marginal lbw decision but Edwards deserved the wicket for his great delivery. The visitors went to Tea at 19 for 1 in in 8 overs.
Tale of the Final Session :
The pair of Murali Vijay and Rahul Dravid resumed the final session with plenty of expectations on them. Vijay announced his intentions clearly by going for a few aerial shots while Dravid was struggling to find the gaps with his shots. Vijay (45 from 78 balls with 4 fours) lost his wicket in the 25th over after trying to pull a short of length delivery from Rampaul over the top of mid on but only managing the toe end of the bat to get caught by Bishoo.
India was at 73 for 2 in 24.1 overs at the fall of a set Murali Vijay who had a difficult time along with Dravid to score anything from Bishoo’s negative bowling outside leg. Suresh Raina, being a left hander was sent in next to counter the leg spinner but when he got caught and bowled by Rampaul in the 29th over, India abandoned any attempts to go for a win. Suresh Raina (8 from 18 balls) was dismissed off a leading edge which he got in an attempted flick shot off the backfoot, a result caused by the ball stopping onto the bat.
When VVS Laxman joined Dravid in the middle, it was only matter of time before the match ended in a draw. India settled for the stalemate just ahead of the First Hour with a second innings score of 94 for 3 in 32 overs. Rahul Dravid helped himself to 34* (from 89 balls with 2 fours) and Laxman on 3* (from 9 balls). The Man of the Match award rightly went to Shivnarine Chanderpaul while Ishant Sharma got the Man of the Series award.