| A dejected Carl Hooper in Chennai Sunday. (Reuters) l Scorecard on Page 24
Chennai: The Indians have got so used to their winning ways that a victory does not enthuse that special feeling. Of course, there was the customary collection of stumps as souvenirs by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar and the celebration of Virender Sehwag’s 24th birthday, and with it the series win at the team hotel.
That the triumph was only a matter of time was evident Saturday itself, given the West Indies’ performance on this tour.
Ramnaresh Sarwan’s dismissal opened the floodgates in the second hour of the fourth day and the formalities were completed 42 minutes after lunch.
The West Indians’ morale is at its lowest after Sunday’s eight-wicket loss and it will be surprising if the Indians do not achieve a 3-0 whitewash in Calcutta. It was the fifth consecutive home series win under under Sourav Ganguly and he is now only one short of equalling Mohammed Azharuddin’s record 14 Test wins.
“It’s a shame that an international side has come to this level. It’s more disappointing than the Mumbai Test. We’re just not playing cricket,” Carl Hooper summed up the team’s mood.
“We played well as a team. It’s been a satisfying experience,” said Sourav.
The Indians had always been confident of a victory, but the manner in which the opposition has capitulated in the two Tests has left the hosts surprised. The inexperienced Caribbeans have been at sea against the Indian attack, be it pace or spin.
“If you look at the scoreboard, you will find that the pacers have taken more wickets. You cannot also say that the wicket was bad since we’ve played on pitches worse than those provided,” Hooper tried to reason.
The occasion was somewhat soured by Sourav’s back injury, the result of a collision with Anil Kumble at midwicket while attempting to catch a Pedro Collins mishit. But once he felt a little comfortable, the result of pain-killing injections, he was back with the team for the prize distribution ceremony.
His courage and has rubbed on to the side and made them invincible. He kept rotating the bowlers in short bursts and brought on Zaheer Khan at the right time to provide the breakthrough.
Harbhajan Singh just walloped the visitors . The late-order were left searching for clues as he scalped three wickets in a single over. Ryan Hinds, Gareth Breese and Mervyn Dillon fell to the first, second and fifth deliveries of the 75th over and it was time to write the West Indies’ epitaph.
In the process, the Punjab off spinner went past Muttiah Muralidharan as the leading wicket-taker in the calendar year. Harbhajan now has 53 wickets from 10 Tests this year.
“Chepauk has always been kind to me and I think it’s lucky both for me and the team,” the Man of the Match, who finished with match figures of seven for 130, said. “It’s very hard to find positives. We’ve dropped a dozen catches in the two games. Some of the dismissals were just bizarre. We were a bit more positive in the second innings but it was far too gone,” said Hooper of getting past 200 for the first time in the series.
Coach Roger Harper was equally scathing in his remarks. “It was a case of not grasping the opportunities, be it batting or fielding. The players have to start to learn to be accountable.”
The Indian response was as swift as it was decisive. Sehwag’s massive drives, two of which sailed over the ropes, provided the momentum.
Sachin knocked off the winning runs in the floodlit stadium.