Third India-West Test ends in dramatic draw

Darren Sammy's Caribbeans deny MS Dhoni's India a 0-3 whitewash in final Test at Wankhede

The atmosphere was laidback, no frenzy in the streets of South Mumbai like Friday, players not doing their routine warm-ups prior to kickoff, lacking in intensity, fans not going out of their way to secure tickets, all in expectancy of an assured draw. In the end, there was no change in the result.

West Indies players celebrate the run out of R Ashwin on the last ball
of the fifth day's play in the third and final Test at the Wankhede
Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Pic/Suresh kk

The third and final Test match between India and West Indies here at the Wankhede Stadium ended in a draw. But not before 17 wickets fell for 295 runs, and yet, on another day, if it wasn't for the number of dropped catches, diving, desperate hands that leaked runs, close run-out shaves, a rare attempt to have an Indian tail-ender Mankaded, those numbers could have been a lot different.

Middle-order batsman Virat Kohli top-scored for India in the second
innings with 63

By tea time, India were comfortably en route to their first series whitewash in 18 years. They needed only 94 runs from 30 overs, with Virat Kohli (63) and VVS (31) sharing a joke, sauntering back at ease to the pavilion. Two hours later, it was the penultimate ball, and all four results were possible, who would have imagined considering Darren Sammy's side began the day on 81-2, leading by 189 runs.

West Indies left with the task of two wickets in two balls, India needing just two runs with first-innings centurion R Ashwin, who displayed tons of maturity for a player into only his third Test, on strike, unflustered. "Keep your eyes on the ball," Ashwin had yelled to debutant partner Varun Aaron with a thunderous knock of the gloves at the start of the over.

Fidel Edwards steamed in, late swing, rapped him on the pad, went up in appeal, but an inside edge saved Ashwin. It also ruled out the possibility of a West Indies win, or a tie, all eyes on Ashwin. He struck the ball hard, found substitute Dinesh Ramdin at mid-on, who had already taken a splendid catch to remove Rahul Dravid.  Ashwin's movements were restricted, slow to start, slow to turnaround, reacted to the call for the winning run only after Aaron yelled "yes". Ashwin was run out by a mile.

The West Indians were elated but not without paying a price. Only if they hadn't lost eight wickets for 53 runs in the morning, the two captains would have agreed to the same result, no heartbeats would have skipped, the scribes would've reported 'a tame draw' and the potency of the pitch would have been questioned. To put things in perspective, no team in the small amount of 2,019 Tests has lost after posting 590 in the first innings.
How can one justify the possibility of all four results with two balls left in a Test after the first four days produced 1,153 runs for just 22 wickets, with a world record 11 half-centuries across either innings? It was only the second instance in history when a Test match was drawn with the scores level.

Wellington 2010-11, Centurion 2009-10, Johannesburg 2009-10, Cardiff 2009, whoever said drawn Tests were not exciting. The difference: In those cases, the draw was a result of four days that saw an intense wrangle for honours, couldn't be separated in the stipulated time. Here, it was accidental, a case of poor cricket, coupled with a surface that changed colours without prior notice.

History almost repeated itself though. In 1974-75, at the same venue, West Indies scored 604-6, India replied with 406, and yet the hosts lost!

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